(Petaling Jaya, Monday): Parliament has taken one whole week before “refuting” my statement last Monday that it had squandered tens of millions of ringgit to go online only to produce one of the most disgraceful public websites in the country and in the international parliamentary community in the past six years.
A Parliament spokesman said the
Parliament administration had only spent about RM2.4 million for the purchase of
computers and the development and maintenance of the website and “dismissed”
my allegation that the Parliament’s website was not user-friendly. (The
Let me respond at the outset that the “jurassic” Parliament homepage does
not justify spending RM100,000 let alone the RM2.4 million expenditure claimed
by Parliament, that such excessive expenditure borders on criminal negligence,
as it remains the most user-unfriendly, inaccessible and uninformative website
among the world's Parliaments and Malaysia's public websites in the past six
In any event, the Parliament Speaker, Tan Sri Mohamad Zahir Ismail owes the
Malaysian taxpayers a full accounting, and should present a report to convince
the Malaysian public that Parliament did not squander millions or tens of
millions of ringgit to produce a most disgraceful website for six years, by
giving a detailed account of the
annual expenditures in the past six
years to put Parliament online, and to allow
a close scrutiny as to the actual
expenditures in the past six years for the Parliament homepage and their
Parliament will become a standing joke if
it is incapable or unwilling to account for the millions or tens of millions
of ringgit wasted on the Parliament homepage, for it would lose all
credibility as the highest legislative and deliberate chamber in the land to
hold the government to full account for over a hundred billion ringgit of public
expenditures a year!
The Parliament spokesman “dismissed” my condemnation of the Parliament
homepage for being “user-unfriendly” but gave no grounds and made no attempt
to list its user-friendliness for
the simple reason that there are
none to be cited.
The Parliament homepage is so user-unfriendly that there are frequent
complaints by the few visitors to
the site that its “Order of
Business” and “Hansard” pages regularly “hang up”, while after six
years, the “Bills” are still “under construction” and it is unable to
provide a single Act enacted by Parliament – and there are no other topical or
interactive material on the site.
There is not much improvement of
the Parliamentary homepage since it was suddenly launched in May 1996, not because Parliament was going to
play a leading role in the information revolution but to forestall my
persistent criticism in the
Parliamentary chamber about the IT-backwardness of Parliament in
not even having a website.
What is tragic about the Parliament homepage is that it is
a living advertisement to the world that Malaysia is not serious in
wanting to be a IT powerhouse and is totally unready with the mindset needed
to take the quantum leap into the information and knowledge era, despite
all the talk about ICT, the Multmedia Super Corridor (MSC) and the K-economy.
What is the use of talking about a world-class IT workforce when the
Malaysian Parliament cannot put up a world-class homepage?
The Parliamentary homepage is one reminder that Malaysia has lost six years in the international competition to become an IT powerhouse – or 30 Internet years as a human year is equated to five Internet years - and the country should not continue to talk IT without the necessary IT mindset and cultural transformation which are the prerequisites for Malaysia to take the quantum leap into the information/knowledge era.
It is very sad that while governments around the world, national and local, are embracing electronic government by putting critical information online, automating once cumbersome processes and interacting electronically with their citizens –Malaysia seems to be doing the reverse, where e-government is being used by some government departments and public authorities to waste resources, impede greater public access to information and make them even less accountable to the citizens, with Parliament standing out as the worst culprit determined to lumber on as a dinosaur in the IT era!