Parliament website in the backyard of the PM’s Department the worst example of “Third World maintenance culture” which Mahathir and Abdullah had been condemning to no avail – MPs should give ultimatum to sack Parliament webmaster unless there is “First World” maintenance
Media Conference Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): My attention was drawn to the following blog by Jeff Ooi in the upshot of the furore over excessive parliamentary claims: (http://www.malaysiakini.com/jeffooi/):
MPs: 'Don'tlah insult us!'
Members of Parliament feel insulted when 14 of their peers are being called up for interview by the ACA for making monthly allowance exceeding RM10,000.
They say the ACA should not meddle in the issue as they consider their allowances an internal matter for the parliamentarians.
If the matter should at all be probed, they say it's best left to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee (theSun, October 3 Page 2).
But is there such a committee? When I searched through the Parliament's official website, I could only find these Committees:
Will the learned please enlighten?
I was surprised by Jeff’s query as to whether there is a Committee of Privileges. The three committees named, the Right and Freedom Committee, Proceeding Regulations Committee and National Accounting Committee are all Greek to me although I had been MP for 30 years.
Jeff’s links are all correct. It is clear that the committees referred to are actually the Committee of Privileges, the Standing Orders Committee and the Public Accounts Committee and how the ridiculous mistakes were made, giving them names nobody has ever heard.
The Committee of Privileges, Standing Orders Committee and Public Accounts Committee were names originally used by Parliament when the country attained independence in 1957, and continued to be used for 46 years up till now, in accordance with established parliamentary practice in the House of Commons and other Commonwealth Parliaments. They had been translated into Bahasa Malaysia as Jawatankuasa Hak dan Kebebasan, Jawatankuasa Peraturan-peraturan Mesyuarat and Jawatankuasa Kira-kira Wang Negara.
But when the Parliament website was decided upon, by people who have no knowledge or understanding of Parliament, whether its functioning, history or tradition, the names of these committees were arbitrarily re-translated from Bahasa Malaysia into English into new-fangled and farcical terms.
This hlghlights the deplorable Parliament homepage which I had been complaining for years without anyone in authority paying notice, whether the Parliament Speaker, the Prime Minister’s Department or the MPs themselves.
The explanatory note given by the Parliament website on the “National Accounting Committee”, describing Datuk Dr. Jamaludin bin Dato” Mohd. Jarjis as its Chairman since 15th February 2000, is proof that it has not been updated for years as Jarjis had long been appointed second Finance Minister.
I had been complaining for months about the lack of 24/7 mindset of the Parliament website, as it is one of the rare “cobwebsites” which closes down during weekends instead of being accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
Last Sunday, I found to my surprise that the Parliament website was functioning – as I could access its archive of Hansards, the only useful feature of the Parliamentary homepage. But I was not sure whether this represented a change of policy and mindset as a result of my badgering, or because of forgetfulness of the Parliament webmaster to close down the website before going off for his weekend.
I have waited until this weekend to verify this, and sure enough, on this first Saturday holiday of the month, the Hansards are not accessible – showing that its accessibility last Sunday was because of forgetfulness and not because of a new-found 24/7 IT culture and mindset.
There are some 14 Bills which would be debated in the current meeting of Parliament, four of which concern terrorism and two on elections – all very important bills. The least the Parliament website should do is to post all these bills on its site so that they could be accessible to interested Malaysians to study and give their feedback. However, such a basic feature is still beyond the capability of the Parliament webmaster after seven years of history!
Both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have frequently lamented the Third-World Maintenance Culture in the public service and the country despite so many first-world infrastructures. However, they have overlooked the fact that the most blatant example of the shocking lack of maintenance culture is to be found in their own backyards, as Parliament comes under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department.
It is time that Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should crack the whip and ensure as a start, his own backyards set an example of “First World Infrastructure, First World Maintenance Culture” by ensuring that the Malaysian Parliament website ranks among the best and not the worst among the world’s Parliaments.
Parliament will still be debating the Prime Minister’s Department during the committee stage of the 2004 Budget on Monday, which includes Parliament. MPs from all political parties should be able to unite to deplore the Malaysian Parliament website for being worst example of “Third World maintenance culture” which Mahathir and Abdullah had been condemning but to no avail – and give an ultimatum to sack the Parliament webmaster unless there is an immediate revamp of the Parliament website with “First World” maintenance”. It would be very sad if MPs could only unite over the issue of their parliamentary claims.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman