RM50 million wasted on renovating Parliament House when the money would be better spent in improving the quality of parliamentary debate by providing a world-class library and research service for MPs
Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Saturday): The 40-day 2004 budget meeting of Parliament started on Tuesday with MPs dumb-struck by the physical transformation of the 40-year Parliament House undergoing a RM50 million renovation – “exuding elegant style and class” more mesmerizing than five-star hotels and matching the mammoth splendour of Putrajaya landmarks.
The RM50 million are wasted on renovating Parliament House as the money would be better spent in improving the quality of parliamentary debate by providing a world-class library and research service to Members of Parliament as the first week of the current Parliament was most unproductive and disgraceful in failing to address the teeming issues confronting the country – whether
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Education Ministry, Datuk Mahadzir Mohd Khir did give a reply during question to the DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Kerk Kim Hock on the RM140 million East Coast computer laboratory scandal, resulting in 574 of the 600 computer laboratories built not safe and in danger of collapse – but Mahadzir did not say anything which MPs or the Malaysian public did not know already.
Mahadzhir conspicuously failed to give a full accounting to Parliament on important questions about the school computer scandal, including:
The failure of Parliament to emulate the example of the United States Congress and the United Kingdom House of Commons to immediately address their respective black-outs will be a standing shame to the Malaysian legislature.
The first week of the current Parlament is in fact the classic illustration of the Malaysian malady which had been eloquently diagnosed by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality”.
Unlike other Commonwealth Parliaments, the Malaysian Parliament have no respectable library and absolutely no research facilities for MPs. The Parliament library is at best a “kampong” library which any respectable college let alone university would feel ashamed.
The RM50 million renovation work of Parliament started early last year and was scheduled to be completed in February this year. But the renovation timetable has been extended by one year to March 2004, as it has been reported that round-the-clock renovation work had to be halted after workers refused to work at night as Parliament House was “haunted”, being the site of a former graveyard!
In his final National Day message last Saturday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad hit out at Malays, including the youths, for believing in the supernatural as a substitute for hard work to guarantee success. What has he got to say about a “haunted Parliament” which I had never heard in my 30 years in Parliament. On Monday, he should make a Ministerial statement in the Dewan Rakyat on the “haunted Parliament” and the one-year delay in the completion of the RM50 million renovation – money better spent to produce a world-class Parliament library and world-class parliamentary research service.
Typical of the “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” is the parliamentary website, which shuts off its only useful feature – the Hansards - during weekends and public holidays, blissfully unaware of the 24/7 concept in cyberspace, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Some members of the International Advisory Panel (IAP) have been reported as describing the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) as a “miracle” which has progressed beyond all expectations. There are certainly many “miracles” in Malaysia – including a parliamentary website which “goes home to sleep” during weekends and public holidays!
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman