to Abdullah to adopt international best practices and universally-accepted
parliamentary convention of appointing the Opposition to head the Public
Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament House, Monday): I have this morning sent a letter to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi across the floor of the House asking him to urgently reconsider the decision of not appointing an Opposition MP as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
Yesterday, when speaking at the DAP National Consultation “Agenda for First World Parliament”, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz announced that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) would not have an Opposition MP as Chairman.
In my letter to the Prime Minister, I stressed that “at stake is not just whether the 11th Parliament is prepared to comply with international best practices and universally-accepted parliamentary conventions of having an Opposition to head the Public Accounts Committee, but even more fundamental and far-reaching – the credibility of the National Integrity Plan which YAB launched last month and your repeated exhortations for mindset change and a culture for excellence and high performance; as well as the government’s commitment to have a First World Parliament in line with YAB’s pledge to eradicate the Malaysian malaise of ‘First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality’.”
I said that the reason given by Nazri why the PAC cannot have an Opposition MP as Chairman was most shocking and reflected most adversely on the administration’s pledge for a clean, incorruptible, trustworthy and people-oriented government. Nazri had implied that the Opposition cannot be trusted with such a position which would entitle it to go to any Ministry to demand answers and accountability from its KSU (Ketua Setiausaha) as the Opposition did not have experience in government and therefore have no “sensitivity” of certain important matters in government.
In my letter to Abdullah, I commended Nazri’s preparedness to speak at the DAP National Consultation “Agenda for a First World Parliament”, hoping that it would “herald a more consultative, collaborative and co-operative chapter of parliamentary relations, not only among MPs from both sides of the House but also between MPs and the public”.
“Parliament is the forum for the scrutiny of the government, but the public must also have the facilities to exercise scrutiny on Parliament.
I also suggested that the more consultative, collaborative and co-operative approach among MPs should be both at formal and informal parliamentary levels, and asked the Prime Minister to allow Barisan Nasional MPs to join with Opposition MPs to form an informal parliamentary caucus on democracy in Burma in view of the farce of a National Constitutional Convention in Yangon today.It is hoped that the informal parliamentary caucus on democracy on Burma could also mark a new era of greater maturity of the Malaysian Parliament and democracy, where MPs can form caucuses or committees on issues which they feel strongly about, without having to bind either their political party or the government.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman & Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor