Parliament facing an unprecedented crisis of confidence with the plunge of the public standing, credibility and integrity of MPs as evident from the Nanyang.com Internet survey that 87.5% of 1,008 people polled held that it was wrong and unreasonable for the 14 MPs to submit monthly parliamentary claims exceeding RM10,000
- DAP Muar anniversary dinner
by Lim Kit Siang
(Muar, Sunday): There will be a change of Prime Minister in less than three weeks’ time when Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi succeeds Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, but will there be any change of policy or will it be more of the same. Mahathir said at the Barisan Nasional’s “Power Sharing” 50th Anniversary public rally on 20th September 2003 that there would be no policy change when Abdullah takes over the premiership on November 1.
Does this mean, for instance, that Malaysia will be stuck among the corrupt nations instead of joining the ranks of the world’s least corrupt nations in the annual Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI)?
Malaysia suffered another blow on the anti-corruption front last Tuesday when Transparency International released its 2003 Corruption Perception Index, which placed Malaysia in the worst ranking in its nine-year history, i.e. 37th placing as compared to 33rd position for last year and 23rd position in the first TI CPI in 1995.
Most horrendous of all, with the 14 Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) squads to investigate and verify all bills and claims by 14 Members of Parliament involved in excessive parliamentary claims over RM10,000 a month, Parliament has joined the Road Transport Department, the Land Office, the Police, the local authorities, in the public perception as places where corruption and financial malpractices are rife and rampant.
MPs regardless of political party should take a very serious view of the grave damage to the public standing, reputation, credibility and integrity of the institution of Parliament in the past two weeks as a result the scandal of the excessive parliamentary claims and their failure to address the issue responsibly.
Yesterday, I saw the result of the week-long Nanyang Siang Pau online survey which conducted a poll with the question as to whether it is reasonable for the 14 MPs to submit more than RM10,000 parliamentary claims a month, where 87.5% of the 1,008 responses from 5th to 12 Oct. opined that it was unreasonable, receiving support from only 8.8 per cent while 3.7% of those polled had no views.
Parliament should take serious note of the Nanyang.com Internet survey, which is one strong evidence that for the first time in its 44-year history since the first 1959 general election, it is facing an unprecedented crisis of confidence among Malaysians, where 87.5% polled could hold that it was wrong for the 14 MPs to submit monthly parliamentary claims exceeding RM10,000.
There is nothing in law to stop the ACA from conducting investigations into excessive parliamentary claims if there is prima facie suspicion of corrupt practices, but there is also nothing in parliamentary practices to stop Parliament, either through the Committee of Privileges or a Special Select Committee, from conducting a wide-ranging investigation into the whole controversy of parliamentary claims which has become a national scandal.
All that is needed is for Parliament to pass a motion directing the Committee of Privileges or a Special Select Committee to investigate excessive parliamentary claims and to make recommendations for reforms of parliamentary claims to restore public confidence in the credibility and integrity of Members of Parliament.
Why is there no such motion in the Dewan Rakyat under Standing Order 80 to refer the whole issue to the Committee of Privileges or a Special Select Committee for a thorough investigation when it is now more than two weeks since the excessive parliamentary claims bomb had exploded in Parliament?
The ACA has not emerged from the parliamentary claims allegations with its reputation as a competent, professional, independent and unbiased agency unscathed either, for four reasons:
Has ACA arbitrarily dropped two of the 16 MPs from its investigations and if so, who are the lucky two?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman