RM42 million spent to give Parliament posh five-star hotel feel but it still typifies “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” without being more functional and purposeful, as having one of the world’s best and meaningful parliamentary websites instead of one of the worst
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): It is the latest example of “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” that the government can spend RM42 million to give Parliament a posh five-star hotel feel, with plush sofas and marble flooring with an unique yellow colouring, but no money or thought to make it more functional and purposeful, as having one of the world’s best and meaningful parliamentary websites instead of one of the worst.
Members of Parliament and the Malaysian people must ask what is the use of spending RM42 million to make the Malaysian Parliament a more posh rubber-stamp to give automatic approval for whatever is decided by the Executive if nothing is done to improve on the efficacy and role of Parliament?
Today, the National Service Training Bill and the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill were tabled in Parliament for first reading. Both of these bills should have been posted instantly on the parliamentary website so that interested Malaysians can have immediate access to them. A visit to the Parliament website (http://www.parlimen.gov.my) for these bills will be in vain.
This is not an oversight. As I said on Sunday, for most of last week, visitors to the parliamentary website were met with the information “The page cannot be displayed” when they checked on “Aturan Urusan Mesyuarat”, “Penyata Rasmi”, “Rang Undang-Undang” and “Akta”, although all the other dead information about “Dewan Negara”, “Dewan Rakyat” and “Jawatankuasa” were still available.
This morning in Petaling Jaya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Datuk Param Cumaraswamy launched the report of the year-long study on the Internal Security Act by the New York-based Fordham Law School’s Joseph R. Crowley Program in International Human Rights, entitled “Unjust Order – Malaysia’s Internal Security Act”.
Such a report, which is the latest indictment on the draconian ISA and the unjust rule of law in Malaysia , should be the subject of a searching debate in Parliament – but nobody has any such expectation as far as the Malaysian Parliament is concerned, when Parliament could be so remiss in its parliamentary duties as to fail to have a single debate in the past three years on the eight substantive reports on human rights by Suhakam – three of which are on the ISA.
The next two days will be the most dishonourable days for the Malaysian Parliament, when it will be exposed as most irrelevant and inconsequential by being completely overshadowed by the 54th UMNO General Assembly, UMNO Youth and UMNO Wanita meetings.
Parliament will be denuded of UMNO Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and MPs, with second, third and even fourth-string substitutes from other Barisan Nasional component parties to stand in for the UMNO Ministers during question time and debates on government bills to respond to Opposition queries and speeches.
National media attention will be focused on the Putra World Trade Centre, the venue of the UMNO meetings, and not on Parliament, although Parliament occupies the apex of the Malaysian system of parliamentary democracy. However the Malaysian political system has become so perverted that there is live telecast of UMNO General Assembly debates and proceedings but not for parliamentary proceedings.
If RM42 million can be spent to make Parliament acquire a posh five-star hotel feel, MPs should at least make sure that Parliament should set the example of being an institution which typifies “First World Infrastructure, First World Mentality”, starting firstly, with a First World parliamentary website instead of continuing with a Third World Internet presence; and secondly, debate substantive issues like Suhakam’s human rights reports and not marginalized by UMNO General Assembly proceedings.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman