Last Saturday, after the six-hour traffic gridlock stranding thousands of motorists in Shah Alam as a result of highway floods, Abdullah said he would raise the issue of flashfloods caused by clogging of drains and canals with the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure.
Did Abdullah raise this issue at the Cabinet meeting today or he is waiting for the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure which has yet to meet?
This was the first time that Malaysians read about a Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure after the formation of the new Cabinet last month. Who in any event are members of this Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure?
On 24th December 1999, Abdullah met the media after chairing a committee of good governance and disclosed that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad had reminded ministers at the first meeting of the new Cabinet on December 15, 1999 that Cabinet Ministers should carry out their duties with collective responsibility, loyalty, efficiency and dedication and be "hands-on" in their work.
This was the first time that Malaysians heard about a "committee on good governance" which prompted me to ask the very next day whether this was a Cabinet Committee on Good Governance and if so, its membership, terms of reference, modus operandi and powers. There was no reply to my query as there was total silence from Abdullah and the Cabinet.
This is a most unsatisfactory, haphazard and antideluvian way to operate an information policy in the new millennium - akin to the commendable scoop by Star reporter Jacqueline Ann Surin on Monday highlighting the pre-IT mentality of the Ministries in her report under the heading "Ministries’ websites still stuck in 1999" which revealed that at least four ministries have not yet updated their websites although the new Cabinet was announced a month ago and that a number of sites could not even be accessed.
Yesterday, I had raised the question of the Cabinet Committee on Road Safety, which should be given topmost priority especially with the daily road carnage, with another 15 road fatalities reported on the third day of Hari Raya, bringing the total number of deaths during the 19 days of Ops Statik IV to a mind-boggling 255.
Can Abdullah explain whether there is now a Cabinet Commitee on Road Transport, who are its members and its terms of reference or has such a Cabinet Committee been disbanded as the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik is now notorious for his "hands-off’ and "minds-off" attitude towards road safety and the criminally high death tolls on the roads?
In any event, I call on Abdullah to immediately make public a full list of the Cabinet Committees which have been set up since the first Cabinet meeting on December 15, 1999, with their respective terms of reference and composition, with the public informed periodically about their activities and successes.
I believe Abdullah should have the authority to make public this information without having to wait until the Prime Minister returns from his overseas holidays/working visit to chair the Cabinet again on February 9, 2000 or a question is asked in Parliament when it reconvenes on February 14, 2000.