Speaker has abused his powers in approving closed circuit camera for Prime Minister to snoop at parliamentary proceedings from Putrajaya without parliamentary sanction


Media statement
by Lim Kit Siang 

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The statement by the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat, Tun Zahair Ismail that he had approved the installation of a closed circuit camera to allow the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to snoop at parliamentary proceedings without approval from Parliament  does not make it right or proper.

In fact, what Zahir had done tantamout to an abuse of powers as the Speaker is the servant and not the master of the Dewan Rakyat and by parliamentary convention, he could only act with the authority of the House - which is absent in this case, as MPs are completely ignorant about the installation.

Zahir said that the installation of the live video link-up to allow the Prime Minister to snoop at parliamentary procedings is neither illegal nor extraordinary, and that some parliaments in other countries have direct telecast of their proceedings to the public.

It is sad that Zahir completely missed the point that he had himself made, that other countries have direct parliamentary telecast to the people in accordance with the principle of accountability  but in Malaysia we have a direct parliamentary telecast to only one person,  the Prime Minister, which smacks of a 21st century form of psychological feudalism as well as George Orwellís  "Big Brother" at work.

And for what purpose? According to the Prime Minister, this is to allow him to monitor the  conduct of Barisan Nasional  MPs during House proceedings so that the regular "truants" would not be renominated to stand in the next general election.

Why should public expenditures be expended  to enable the Barisan Nasional President decide which Barisan Nasional MPs should be dropped in the next general election based on their "truancy" in Parliament? This is another sad case of the failure of the Prime Minister and even the Speaker of Parliament to differentiate between what is governmental and what is party as a result of the ingrained Barisan Nasional government culture of regarding public properties as private or personal properties.

In any event, if Mahathir must depend on the live video link-up between Parliament and his Putrajaya office to be able to monitor and discipline Barisan Nasional MPs, the deterioration and degeneration of Barisan MPs have reached too advanced a level as to be capable of salvation.

I would invite the Speaker to name a single country where there is only a live parliamentary telecast to the Prime Minister but none to the public. Malaysia has again gone into the Guinness Book of Records of being the first and only country professing to practise parliamentary democracy where there is only live parliamentary telecast to the head of government but not to the public -  a record Malaysians have no reason to feel proud.

Who bears the expenses for the live video link-up from Parliament to the Prime Ministerís Office in Putrajaya? Is it from the Putrajaya vote or from Parliament vote?

An important principle is involved as to whether Malaysia has a peopleís Parliament or only a Mahathirís Parliament.  The Prime Minister should admit that it is a great mistake sending out completely wrong messages on public accountaiblity and parliamentary responsibility  to instal the video link-up without parliamentary sanction or knowledge, and he should immediately dismantle it to show full respect not only to the institution of Parliament but to all MPs  and voters as well. Instead, introduce without any delay live parliamentary telecast or netcast.
 

(7/11/2000)


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman