Malaysian Parliament homepage - for five years disgraceful  “wet blanket” instead of   pioneer for  e-democracy in Malaysia

Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Monday):  The advent of Internet should usher in  greater democratisation with more openness and transparency in the process of government  from the enhancement of information  flow between the government and the citizen but this is not the case in Malaysia.  

The Malaysian Parliament, for instance, should be the pioneer for  e-democracy in the past five years with its parliamentary homepage but instead  it was a “wet blanket” in having a website that must rate as an abysmal disgrace among Commonwealth Parliamentary homepages. 

Other Parliaments have been  experimenting with live webcast of parliamentary debates making their proceedings directly accessible to their citizens on the Internet, but in Malaysia, the only parliamentary innovation in this respect is the direct live video link  of Parliament to the Putrajaya office of the Prime Minister, who hardly uses it as he is even out of the country during parliamentary meetings.  

In the United Kingdom, proposals have been made that all new laws should be debated on the Internet before they go through the House of Commons, but in Malaysia, the Parliamentary homepage does not have a single parliamentary act or bill after more than five years of existence. 

At the end of January this year, I had called for a total revamp of the Parliamentary homepage as it was  a disgraceful advertisement of Malaysia’s Information Technology (IT) ambitions for more than  five years or it should be taken down altogether.  

There was an immediate response from the Speaker, Tan Sri Mohamad Zahir Ismail, who told Nanyang Siang Pao (29th Jan. 2001) that he took a serious view of the criticisms and that the matter would be dealt with by the webmaster of the Parliamentary homepage.

The only change to date is a third face-lift for the parliamentary homepage, but it remained as “useless” as an informative and interactive website as in the past five years.  

The fourth session of Parliament had started its  second week of meeting, but attempts to access information on the current parliamentary proceedings would come up against the wall, as efforts to get information  on  the daily parliametnary Order Paper, the daily parliamentary report or bills presented for debate in the current meeting of Parliament are invariably met with one of two notices: “Laman ini sedang dalam pembinaan. harap maaf!” or “Not Found. The requested URL /cyberdocs.asp was not found on this server.”  

How can the Malaysian Parliament pioneer e-democracy  to promote online citizenship debate and discussion of pending parliamentary agendas and bills when the parliamentary homepage is still struggling with the rudimentary technology of uploading to its site basic materials like the daily parliamentary order papers and Hansards - after being webbed for more than five years? 

The rigmarole of a Malaysian parliamentary homepage which for five years cannot operate  a website which is a credit to Malaysia’s IT ambition to be one of the world’s IT superpowers as well as a pioneer of e-democracy has gone on long enough, and an all-party Parliamentary IT Committee should be established to take over full responsibility for the Parliamentary homepage so that it ceases to be a “wet blanket” and become  a catalyst of e-democracy in Malaysia.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman