“It stinks to high heaven” - Parliament Speaker and Works Minister not knowing the cost of Parliament renovation, claiming RM60 million when it costs RM85 million and will top some RM100 million when fully completed
Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Saturday):“It stinks to high heaven” – this is the typical reaction to the shocking spectacle of the Parliament Speaker, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah and the Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu not knowing the cost of Parliament renovation, claiming RM60 million when it costs RM85 million and will top some RM100 million when fully completed.
Yesterday morning at 10.30 am., I had asked at a media conference in Ipoh whether the cost of Parliament renovation, which had increased to RM85 million from the original RM50 million estimates, would be hiked further to some RM100 million before it is completed.
I did not know that I had scored a “bull’s eye”, as later the same morning, the Public Works Department director-general Tan Sri Zaini Omar was reporting to the Dewan Rakyat House Committee in Parliament House the true costs of the Parliament renovation – from the original estimates of RM49,625,000 to RM85 million (with RM74.5 million spent so far) and a new tranche of expenditure totaling RM14 million awaiting Treasury approval, which will bring the total cost of Parliament renovation to RM99 million!
I take no pride in being so “spot on” in my forecast of the cost of parliamentary renovation, seeming to know what the Parliament Speaker and the Works Minister do not know, but I am shocked and outraged at the shocking state of affairs highlighted by this episode, viz:
That it is the PWD Director-General explaining to the Speaker and members of the Parliament House Committee the costs of Parliament renovation and their breakdowns although renovation work had started two-and-a-half years ago since November 2002, when the PWD should be executing Parliament’s wishes and decisions on renovation made through the Speaker and the House Committee. This is like a house-owner only learning about the cost and details of the renovation of his house, and that it would cost another 28% of the original estimates, 30 months after renovation work! Far from showing an independent “First World Parliament”, we have a Parliament which is even subordinate to a government department – PWD!
That the Parliament Speaker and Works Minister do not know that the cost of Parliament renovation is RM85 million (before the additional allocation of RM14 million is formally requested), with Ramli contradicting my figure and claiming RM60 million last Saturday, and the Samy Vellu endorsing the RM60 million figure when he visited Parliament House on Tuesday. It is just mind-numbing that Samy Vellu told the media this RM60 million figure in the presence of the PWD director-general who, three days later, reported to the House Committee that the renovation actually cost RM85 million! How can the words of Cabinet Ministers be trusted in future?
Something is terribly wrong about the line of responsibility and accountability when the Parliament Speaker, the Works Minister and MPs know nothing about the RM85 million renovation, and the whole thing “stinks” when it is now clear that Parliament and the Malaysian taxpayers are not getting the full worth of every ringgit spent for the Parliament renovation or there would not be so many mishaps even before the full completion of the renovation project, including:
Two days ago, I gave Samy Vellu 72 hours to provide satisfactory explanation for the two contradictory figures of RM60 million and RM85 million for Parliament renovation, failing which an Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) report would be lodged asking for investigation into the missing RM25 million from the renovation.
Although it is now confirmed that the Parliament renovation cost is RM85 million and not RM60 million, and that there would be another new item of RM14 million to bring the total cost to RM99 million, Samy Vellu has not given any ground as to why a thorough investigation should not be conducted by the ACA to ensure that there is no corruption, abuse of power or any other form of malpractices to ensure that every ringgit of Parliament renovation is properly spent.
Unless Samy Vellu can give such grounds in the next 48 hours, I would proceed to lodge a report with the ACA in Putrajaya on Monday and I call on Samy Vellu to direct the PWD to give full co-operation in such ACA investigation.
Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman