Parliament facing an unprecedented  crisis of confidence with the plunge of the public standing,  credibility and integrity  of MPs as evident from the 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 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:

  • Firstly, why the ACA keeps referring to 14 MPs who had submitted claims exceeding RM10,000 a month when Datuk Noh Omar, the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department, had in his answer during question-time in Parliament on Sept. 24 named 16 MPs – 14 last year and six for the first half of this year (which included four names listed last year and two new names)?

Has ACA arbitrarily dropped two of the 16 MPs from its investigations and if so, who are the lucky  two? 

  • Secondly, what  is the reason for the ACA initiating corruption investigations into the “14 MPs” who had claimed over RM10,000 a month in the 18-month period?  Why has the  ACA arbitrarily chosen RM10,000 a month as the dividing line between parliamentary claims which are proper and not excessive, as if monthly claims of RM9,999 or below are not likely to be improper and excessive? 
  • Thirdly,  If the ACA is efficient, competent, professional and independent, it would have known by now that it is not unusual for MPs to submit “meeting claims” exceeding RM10,000 a month when Parliament meets for at least three weeks in a month (or 12 sittings), based on the meeting, subsistence, hotel, telephone, mileage/airfare and other claims which they are entitled to.  The problematic cases are “non-meeting” parliamentary claims, whether above or below the RM10,000 monthly  figure.  ACA is wasting public funds as well as  committing a gross dereliction of  duties when it set up ACA squads to investigate MPs whose meeting claims exceed RM10,000 a month for at least three weeks of parliamentary meeting   while ignoring “non-meeting” claims of MPs, whether above or below RM10,000 a month.  Is the ACA prepared to establish 193 ACA squads  to investigate into the “non-meeting” claims of all the 193 MPs?
  • Fourthly, is the ACA prepared to set up special investigation squads to conduct a full-scale probe into  the monthly claims of  Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries  as well as those of Chief Ministers, Mentris Besar, State Excos and State Assembly members at the state level?


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman