DAP proposes an All-Parliamentary Select Committee on Good Governance to work in tandem with Cabinet Committee on Good Governance to ensure clean, efficient and accountable government as well as trustworthy and hardworking MPs

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Sunday): I am still waiting for the Barisan Nasional Government to give a proper and full explanation of the  composition, terms of reference, powers and modus operandi of the Cabinet Committee on Good Governance, and in particular, whether it  encompasses the important jurisdiction to fight corruption and all forms of abuses of power.

The delay in giving a proper and full explanation about the Cabinet Committee on Good Governance will be going against the fundamental principles of good governance with regard to accountability and transparency and I hope that the Cabinet Committee on Good Governance would start off on the right footing.

In fact, DAP proposes that an All-Party Parliamentary Select Committee on Good Governance be formed when Parliament re-convenes in February to work in tandem with the Cabinet Committee on Good Governance with a two-pronged brief:

Following the warning  by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad to  Barisan Nasional MPs on the fourth day of Parliament that they would be dropped in the next general election if they play truant from Dewan Rakyat  meetings,  there is a public hue-and-cry in the mainstream media about the serious problem of Barisan MPs playing truant in Parliament, with strong language being used against the Barisan Nasional MPs, who are called "fools" who tried to "make fools" of the electorate for electing them.

Barisan MPs playing truant from Parliament is not a new problem that has just occurred in the first four days of the new tenth Parliament, but had been a perennial problem of the Malaysian Parliament in previous sessions, despite the Barisan Nasional never losing its two-thirds parliamentary majority.

In the last parliamentary meeting, for instance, despite having 166 out of a total of 192 MPs, Barisan Nasional was often unable to ensure that there was a quorum of 26 MPs - with  Barisan Nasional Ministers and MPs alwlays  playing truant from parliamentary meetings.

This was highlighted by the attendance record published by New Straits Times (November 11, 1999) which showed that there was only quorum (at least 26 MPs) in three out of 13 days of the Parliamentary meeting from Oct. 18 -  Nov. 9, 1999 when a tally was taken at 5 p.m. every day:

MPs in the House
Total number of MPs: 192

The attendance record on Oct. 21, 1999 at 5 p.m., when there were only nine MPs in the Dewan Rakyat, was most disgraceful!

This time, the disease of Barisan Nasional MPs playing truant has become the subject of a national hue-and-cry not because "The silent majority within the electorate has decided it can no longer keep quiet and look the other way when elected representatives fail to show up for Dewan Rakyat proceedings" as claimed by one editorial.

The reason is more mundane. The Barisan Nasional government has decided that it could not "look the other way" any more about their MPs playing truant from parliamentary sittings, as with an increased Opposition parliamentary strength of 45 MPs, there is the likelihood of Opposition MPs having greater numbers in the Dewan Rakyat than the Barisan Nasional  and dominating parliamentary proceedings - as happened in the first four Parliamentary sittings last week.

What a pity that the unprecedented opportunity to smash the Barisan Nasional political hegemony and two-thirds parliamentary  majority was lost in the last general election as a result of the Barisan Nasionalís dirtiest campaign in history, or with some 70 - 75 Barisan Alternative MPs in the Dewan Rakyat now, an even greater sea-change would have taken place in Parliament!

Be that as it may, with or without two-thirds parliamentary majority, a mechanism should be devised by the All-Party Parliamentary Select Committee on Good Governance to ensure diligent attendance of Dewan Rakyat sittings by MPs, whether Barisan Nasional or Barisan Alternative.

Ministers should be required to set a good example of taking Parliament seriously and Ministers most notorious for playing truant, like the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik and the Primary Industries Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik should promise to turn over a new leaf by personally answering questions or replying to speeches concerning their Ministries unless they can give good and acceptable reason why they have to be absent from their parliamentary duties.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman