Ministers are not
complying with Abdullah's directive to postpone overseas trips and to answer
questions in Parliament
Media Conference Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang
Despite the directive by the Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah
Ahmad Badawi to Cabinet Ministers to postpone overseas trips during the
current meeting of Parliament and to answer questions in Parliament, this is
not being complied by most Cabinet Ministers.
During the first week of the present parliamentary meeting, four Ministers
are out of the country at one time or another, viz: the Minister for
Entrepreneurial Development, Datuk Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz (who is unlikely
to forget his New Delhi and the grilling he received at the hands of the
Indian Ministers), the Minister for Works, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, the
Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz and
the Minister for Transport, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik (which is why
Abdullah could not meet him to talk about "black gold" politics in MCA).
The Minister for Health, Datuk Chua Jui Meng, is scheduled to leave the
country at the end of the month for India, until it was cancelled by the
Indian government in protest against the Palm Court police mistreatment of
Inidan IT professionals on Sunday and the government's insensitive and
unsatisfactory response to the Indian diplomatic protests.
In other Commonwealth countries, there is a standing directive to Ministers
not to go overseas when Parliament is in session so that they could
personally respond to questions and speeches of MPs, but in Malaysia, we
seem to have the reverse tradition, where Ministers take the opportunity of
parliamentary meetings to get out of the country - especially when the Prime
Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad also goes on leave!
Ministers also do not comply with the directive of Abdullah to be in
Parliament to answer parliamentary questions personally.
Out of 16 parliamentary questions answered during the last three days of
parliamentary sittings from Tuesday to Thursday, only four were answered by
Ministers, while seven were answered by deputy ministers and five by
This is most disgraceful. The excuse that Ministers could not be in
Parliament to personally take questions on Wednesday as Cabinet is meeting
is a lame one, for two reasons:
Parliament must take greater precedence than Cabinet and there is no reason
why Wednesday's Cabinet meetings could not be adjusted during parliamentary
meetings to ensure that Ministers could be in the House to answer questions
to give meaning to the principle of Ministerial responsibility to
even without Cabinet meetings, Ministers are mostly not present in
Parliament to answer questions, finding it more important to open "cafes"
and conduct their party activities than to perform their most basic
total lack of Ministerial discipline, it is no wonder that the "no quorum"
disease of Barisan Nasional MPs is as serious as ever, with the Dewan Rakyat
meeting without a quorum on Thursday - when there were only 20 MPs present
in the House at 5.15 p.m.
Abdullah should crack the whip at the Ministers to ensure they attend
Parliament to answer parliamentary questions before he could crack the whip
at the Barisan Nasional MPs to get them to attend Parliament diligently, to
at least form up the quorum of 26 MPs out of 193 MPs. How can there be
parliamentary discipline when there is absolutely no Ministerial discipline?
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National