Call on Cabinet on Wednesday to end the haemorrhage of public confidence in Pak Lah’s pledge of an efficient, people-oriented and trustworthy government in the gross mishandling of the RM500 million national service training programme, MyKad and the worst general election conduct in nation’s history
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Monday): The Cabinet on Wednesday should act boldly and end the haemorrhage of public confidence in Pak Lah’s pledge of an efficient, people-oriented and trustworthy government in the gross mishandling of the RM500 million national service training programme, MyKad and the worst general election conduct in the nation’s 46-year history.
1. National Service Training programme
The Cabinet should intervene to overrule the high-handed and insensitive decision of the National Service Training Council on Friday to arrest and prosecute some 10,000 youths who failed to report for national service training, when its first public duty is to restore public confidence in the programme, which has been rocked and shattered by mounting incidents of grave indiscipline like drug abuse, fights, assaults (including assault of trainer), extortion, gangsterism and neglect of the fundamental rights of the trainees to best healthcare and welfare.
Around midnight last night, I received an urgent call from DAP MP for Batu Gajah, Fong Po Kuan, who heads the DAP Committee of Elected Representatives on the National Service, informing me of the latest flare-up of fights between groups of trainees in the Teluk Rubiah camp site in Sri Manjong (near Sitiawan) – which highlights the gravity of the problem of discipline in the various national service training camps and why parents are fast losing confidence in the ability of the national service training authorities to run the national service training programme efficienty, ensuring the safety and welfare of all trainees.
It is a shame and disgrace that despite Fong’s letter to ask for a meeting by DAP MPs and State Assembly members with the National Service Training Council last Friday, the Council members had neither the courage to meet DAP elected representatives nor the courtesy to give a reply.
More and more Malaysians are now asking whether the exorbitant expenditure of RM500 million for this year’s national service training programme has proved to be a disaster – creating more indiscipline and social problems among youths instead, which is the exact opposite of the objectives of the programme.
The Cabinet should veto the decision of the National Service Training Council to arrest and prosecute the some 10,000 youths and direct it to focus on giving first and full priority to remove all the weaknesess and defects that have surfaced to make it a “zero-defect” programme.
DAP opposes the National Service Training Council decision to take legal action against 10,000 youths who failed to report for the training programme and will render legal assistance to all the 10,000 youths who have good cause or grounds for being absent. All DAP lawyers, as well as public-spirited non-DAP lawyers, will be organized to provide a national panel to protect the 10,000 youths from vengeful victimization by the National Service Training Council.
All energies of the National Service Training Council should be focused on resolving the increasing spate of breakdown of discipline in the national service training camps.
The council decision to put the “bullies” of the national service trainees in a special camp is a very swift admission of the failure of the programme aimed at instilling discipline and social values.
Will the Council next set up a special camp for “super bullies” if the special camp for “bullies” should produce a new breed of “super bullies” from the national service trainees?
2. High-handed and arbitrary threat of RM100 fine for failure to collect MyKad within three months
The Cabinet should not allow the Home Affairs Minister, Datuk Azmi Khalid to glorify money as the most important principle of public service by imposing the high-handed, arbitrary and unlawful RM100 fine for the three-month failure to collect MyKads, unless the government is prepared to impose RM100 fine for Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and government officers for every act of inefficiency, discourtesy or failure to provide quality public service.
It is most irresponsible and contrary to the Barisan Nasional 2004 election pledge of a responsive, trustworthy and people-oriented public service to impose the RM100 fine, when the overwhelming majority of the public had not been informed that their MyKads are ready for collection and the national registration departments throughout the country completely unable to cope with the rush to collect MyKads after the RM100 fine threat.
3. Election Commission should not hide behind Official Secrets Act to avoid transparency and impartiality
The Cabinet cannot close its eye to the most disgraceful conduct of the general election in the nation’s 46-year history, as it has raised fundamental questions about the legality and legitimacy of Abdullah’s tsunami victory and the Barisan Nasional’s unprecedented nine-tenth parliamentary majority.
The Election Commission has said that the results of the 2004 general election will be gazetted today despite unanswered questions over irregularities on polling day, and it is likely that an all-time record will be set in the number of election petitions which will be filed by candidates, both government and opposition, to challenge the election results.
While the outcome of such election petitions will have to be decided by the election courts, the Cabinet should ensure that the Election Commission does not hide behind the Official Secrets Act to avoid transparency and impartiality, two pre-conditions if the Election Commission is to discharge its constitutional mandate to enjoy “public confidence” in the conduct of elections.
Last Friday, when DAP Perak State Assemblyman for Pasir Pinji, Thomas Su, went to the Perak State Election Office to buy the “stream-by-stream” results of the Ipoh Timor parliamentary seat, he was shown a letter from the Election Commission headquarters in Putrajaya dated the same day, prohibiting election officers from releasing the stream-by-stream result score-sheet of each constituency – but not before the release of the stream-by-stream result score sheet in some constituencies by some states before Friday.
The pertinent question the Election Commission Chairman, Tan Sri Rashid Abdul Rahman should answer is why the Election Commission is being so unprofessional and undemocratic in hiding behind the Official Secrets Act to avoid accountability, transparency and impartiality, and what has the Election Commission got to hide when it now refuses to release the stream-by-stream result score sheet for each constituency – when the final result for each constituency is the sum total of the stream-by-stream results? Is there a lot of hanky-panky in the stream-by-stream as well as the final results, which cannot be reconciled?
The Cabinet should send a storng, clear and unmistakable message to the Election Commission that the Official Secrets Act is not meant to hide its incompetence, negligence, unprofessionalism and inefficiencies in the worst general election ever conducted in the nation’s history.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman & Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor