Apart from describing these grievances as “an internal matter”, no details had been given as to how the recent memorandum by the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers’ Club listing five Ministers who should be sacked because of their ineffectiveness and competence had been resolved.
All that the public have been told was that the Prime Minister touched on the issue of quorum in the Dewan Rakyat, reminding the Barisan Nasional MPs that it was the responsibility of MPs to attend the Parliament sittings and asking them to draw up a roster to resolve the perennial problem of “no quorum” during parliamentary proceedings.
This is most unsatisfactory, as the issue of ineffective and incompetent Ministers, to the extent that Barisan Nasional MPs had listed five such Ministers who should be sacked, is not just a private issue between the Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional MPs but a public interest issue of direct concern to 22 million Malaysians who want a high standard of administration and governance in the country.
The problem of ineffective and incompetent Ministers is directly linked to the problem of ineffective and incompetent MPs, which is highlighted by the perennial problem of “no quorum” in the House.
How can Mahathir’s latest advice and proposal of a “roster” for BN MPs resolve the chronic problem of “no quorum” in Parliament when his clear and stern warning to BN MPs to be present at all Dewan Rakyat meetings or be dropped at the next general election at the very start of the new Parliament in December 1999 has proved to be such a flop, despite the installation of closed-circuit TV in his office in Putrajaya to give him live coverage of parliament sittings?
The problem of incompetent and ineffective MPs and the disease of “no quorum” in Parliamentary sittings cannot be eliminated without first tackling the problem of incompetent and ineffective Ministers and end their world record of Ministerial absenteeism from Parliamentary proceedings.
At present, the Ministerial Parliamentary benches are empty 95 per cent of the year except for the Yang di Pertuan Agong’s annual royal address, the Budget speech or any Prime Ministerial parliamentary appearance where advance notice had been given.
In actual fact and which is the practice in other Commonwealth Parliaments,
Ministers should regularly be in attendance in Parliament to answer parliamentary
questions and to reply in debates except when they are compelled
to be absent by important and urgent affairs of state - which should be
Mahathir should bring out the axe for a major Cabinet reshuffle if Ministers fail to turn over a new leaf in the two-day winding-up of 2002 Budget debate starting tomorrow, both to reply personally and to address intelligently and responsibly the challenges facing the country.
Ministers who could not reply personally to the 2002 Budget debate should give Parliament and the nation a good and satisfactory explanation, or they should give an equally good and satisfactory reason why they should not be axed in a major reshuffle to eliminate the deadwood from the Cabinet.
But personally replying to the 2002 Budget debate is not enough evidence of competence and effectiveness - the Ministers must be able to intelligently and responsibly address the challenges facing the country, especially in the fields which come directly under their respective Ministerial responsibilities.
Malaysians have been shocked by the recent degradation and debasement of Parliament where parliamentary misconduct like the use of the four-letter F-word and histrionics like the BN MP for Hulu Langat, Datuk Badrul Hisham Abdul Aziz mimicking the moans and groans of bedroom sex scenes have become commonplace.
What Malaysians are looking forward to in the next two days of Ministerial winding-up of the 2002 Budget are answers or guidance to teeming and complex questions and issues, especially with Malaysia and the world confronted with fast-paced changes in the global political, economic and international scenario in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
Among the myriad of issues which Cabinet Ministers should address in
the two-day winding-up debate of the 2002 Budget are: