(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that he was keeping a close watch on attendance of MPs at the Dewan Rakyat as he has a live video link-up of the proceedings to his office in Putrajaya.
He said he could look into the chamber to see who is talking and who is not and he knows when the room is empty.
This is the first time Parliament and the nation are aware that there is video link-up between Parliament and the Prime Ministerís Office in Putrajaya.
Did Parliament give approval for a video link-up to Putrajaya to allow the Prime Minister to snoop at Parliamentary proceedings? When was this link-up installed and what is the cost. Is this what Mahathir means by electronic government from Putrajaya?
It is unlikely that the live video link-up to allow the Prime Minister to snoop at parliamentary proceedings will improve parliamentary attendance of Barisan Nasional MPs, when their mentality of playing truant from parliamentary duties is the result of emulating the example of Cabinet Ministers, who must rank as No. One in the world in terms of Ministerial truancy from Parliament.
The live video link-up between Parliament and Putrajaya should be dismantled as it is an unauthorised infringement of parliamentary privilege - until there is a formal parliamentary vote approving such snooping facilities for the Prime Minister from Putrajaya.
In this era of information technology, Parliamentary proceedings should be instantaneously accessible to Malaysians, whether in the form of live telecast or live netcast on the Parliamentary homepage - but it is most offensive that IT is being used or misused to allow one person, even if he is the Prime Minister, to snoop at parliamentary proceedings.
Apart from being a gross breach of parliamentary privilege for the Prime Minister to unilaterally fix up a live video link-up to allow him to snoop at parliamentary proceedings, without parliamentary approval or even knowledge, Mahathirís inadvertent announcement has the most sinister implications.
Is this a precedent for the Prime Minister to fix up live video link-up
to allow him to monitor proceedings of other institutions, like the courts,
the police headquarters at Bukit Aman, the Anti-Corruption Agency, etc?