The negative and antediluvian responses of Kadir and Nazri to proposals for parliamentary reforms like live parliamentary broadcasts mark them out as the neo-cons (neo conservatives) in the new Abdullah Cabinet representing the “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” faction
by Lim Kit Siang
(Ipoh, Tuesday): The tsunami-like election victory of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, giving the Barisan Nasional an unprecedented nine-tenth parliamentary majority, has the effect of the most potent wine, intoxicating the Barisan Nasional Ministers with an overwhelming sense of power, making them forget about their election promises to be humble, sensitive, responsive, people-oriented and keep abreast with changing times, making them easy victims to the deadly disease of the arrogance of power.
We can see this phenomenon in action when the Information Minister, Datuk Paduka Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said yesterday that the government has decided not to provide live telecast of parliamentary sitting because it will be too costly and time consuming.
He said it was not feasible as it would cost Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) RM100,000 just to telecast an hour of the sitting which lasted the whole day. Live telecast would be made when parliament deliberated on important issues.
Firstly, when did the new Cabinet of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi decide against live telecast of parliamentary proceedings? Or has Abdul Kadir arrogated to himself the sole power to decide on behalf of the Cabinet?
After calling on the Speaker, Tun Mohamed Zahir Ismail in Parliament last Wednesday, I proposed that the newly-elected 11th Parliament should start off with a bang with an ambitious parliamentary reform programme to underline Abdullah’s commitment to deliver his pledge of a clean, incorruptible, trustworthy, efficient and people-oriented administration fully respecting parliamentary democracy and the separation of powers between the executive, legislature and the judiciary.
My proposals for wide-ranging parliamentary reforms to restore meaningful parliamentary democracy included the live telecast of parliamentary proceedings; daily two-hour question time; an Opposition MP to head the Public Accounts Committee (PAC); some 30 specialist Parliamentary Select Committees to monitor every Ministry; parliamentary select committees on specific issues like IT, human rights, women’s agenda, environment, mass media, corruption; “Opposition business day” every week; and research resources for MPs.
As the Cabinet has not yet met to decide on my proposal last Wednesday for the live telecast of parliamentary proceedings, why has Abduk Kadir rejected the suggestion out-of-hand without the benefit of the views and decision of the Cabinet and the new Prime Minister?
I find the reaction of the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, who is in charge of parliamentary affairs, most shocking as being totally alien to the call by Abdullah to end the Malaysian malaise of “First world Infrastructure, Third World Mentality”.
Nazri said two days ago that he was not in favour of my proposals to have live telecast of the parliament proceedings and to form a dedicated parliamentary select committee on certain issues.
It would appear that even before Nazri had the opportunity to make his recommendation to the Prime Minister, his other Cabinet colleague, Abdul Kadir, had already rejected it out of hand!
Nazri’s reasons for opposing live telecast of parliamentary proceedings are not superior to those given by Abdul Kadir.
Nazri said: “During proceedings, MPs and ministers may not sit in the House for six hours as they will walk out and work in their offices. Sometimes I myself do some paperwork in my office and listen to the debate through the public address system.”
He said if the proceedings were telecast live, there could be many empty seats and the public would have a negative perception of the MPs.
He said: “They may not understand the mechanism of the proceedings.” (New Sunday Times)
He also alleged that based on similar live telecasts in countries like Taiwan and Britain, there was a tendency for certain quarters to play to the gallery, like the scenes of MPs fighting in some countries.
The negative and antediluvian responses of Kadir and Nazri to proposals for parliamentary reforms like live parliamentary broadcasts mark them out as the neo-cons (neo-conservatives) in the new Abdullah Cabinet representing the “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” faction.
Let me inform Kadir, Nazri and the first Abdullah Cabinet that without live broadcast of parliamentary proceedings, the Malaysian Parliament, despite a RM50 million renovation, will remain the very epitome of a “First World Infrastructure, Third World Parliament”, as no “First World Parliament” does not have live broadcast of its proceedings, whether through television, radio, or internet, all three or at least one of them.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman & Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor