DAP welcomes Mahathir’s assurance that action would be taken against MPs, regardless of whether government or opposition, for improper, false or corrupt parliamentary claims and proposes a Five-Point MPs’ Action Plan to clear the name of Parliament and every MP of wrongdoing
Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad declared in Langkawi yesterday that the government would definitely take action against Members of Parliament who had committed wrongs and offences regardless of whether they are from the government or opposition, with Berita Harian giving it the top front-page headline “Ahli Parlimen bersalah tetap dihukum: PM”.
DAP welcomes Mahathir’s assurance that impartial action would be taken against MPs, regardless of whether government or opposition, for excessive, improper, false or corrupt parliamentary claims but such impartiality must not only be done, but must be seen to be done in the entire stage of investigations.
It is most unfortunate that this principle of impartiality, that action must be taken against the guilty, regardless of political affiliation whether in Barisan Nasional or opposition, was completely lost in the 10-day furore sparked off by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Noh Omar, on Sept. 24 suggesting that there was something hanky-panky in the parliamentary claims by 16 MPs which exceeded RM10,000 a month in the 18 months from January 2002 to June 2003, resulting in mass investigation of MPs by the Anti-Corruption Agency.
Thanks to Noh Omar, MPs have overnight become targets of public ridicule, distrust and contempt and Parliament identified in the public mind as in the dubious company of bodies like the Road Transport Department, the Land Office, the Police and the local authorities which are infamous for rampant corruption.
It is now painfully clear to everyone, including the Barisan Nasional Ministers and MPs, that Noh Omar’s intention to target PAS MPs with his expose of monthly parliamentary claims exceeding RM10,000 had backfired dangerously, with Barisan Nasional MPs seriously tarnished by the parliamentary claims scandal.
This was why 10 days ago, when Noh first made his “expose” of the excessive claims zeroing specifically on the PAS MP for Jeli, Mohd Apandi Mohamad in Parliament as the “King of Claims”, there was loud table-thumping of support with boos and jeers for PAS MPs by the Barisan Nasional front and backbenchers. However, on Thursday, Barisan Nasional MPs were united with the Opposition in all thumping Noh for his indiscretion in the issue!
In the past 10 days of the swirling controversy, some MPs seems to be adopting completely unacceptable and untenable positions which are totally contrary to the public trust placed in them by the voters and people of Malaysia. There were those who took the stand that improper, excessive and false claims below RM10,000 a month should be exempted from investigations.
Members of Parliament should realize that they are not immune from action, whether by the ordinary process of law in the courts (and Parliament has the powers of a court of law to conduct a trial, pass judgment and sentence, including that of imprisonment) for breaches of law and trust, such as excessive, improper, false or corrupt parliamentary claims.
Instead of just crying innocence and creating a bedlam in Parliament causing confusion galore and generating more heat without any light, MPs whether in government or opposition, should act responsibly and decisively to restore public confidence in the devastated credibility, integrity and legitimacy of Parliament after the unprecedented battery in the past 10 days, and to establish the innocence of every MP as being free from any impropriety.
The top priority of Members of Parliament, whether government or opposition, when they reconvene in Parliament on Monday is to hold an urgent meeting to adopt a five-point action plan to clear the name of every MP of wrongdoing and restore public confidence in credibility, integrity and legitimacy of Parliament, viz:
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman