Public Accounts Committee should convene emergency meeting to conduct a full investigation into the RM85 million Parliament renovation to ensure that Parliament symbolizes democracy and not Third World mentality, accountability and shoddy workmanship
Media Conference Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang
(Putrajaya, Monday): My ACA report cannot and should not be used by Samy Vellu as an excuse in not having to publicly give full and satisfactory accountability that Parliament and the Malaysian taxpayers are getting the full worth of every ringgit spent for the Parliament renovation and why there are so many mishaps even before the full completion of the renovation project, including:
Yesterday, Samy Vellu gave a most outrageous explanation why he had said last Tuesday that the cost of Parliament renovation was RM60 million, denying that it was RM80 million.
Samy Vellu said the original renovation cost was RM49 million. However, Parliament requested another RM36 million worth of renovation, which was approved. The total thus stood at RM85 million. So far, renovation works worth about RM75 million have been completed and RM60 million have been paid.
Parliament has later asked for additional renovation works costing about RM14 million, which had yet to be approved by the Treasury, bringing the overall cost to renovate Parliament House to RM99 million.
This is a most weak and lame explanation. Samy Vellu was not being honest and truthful when he specifically denied last Tuesday that Parliament renovation would cost RM80 million, claiming that it was only RM60 million – which he now explained is at had been paid to the contractors – without mentioning that there would be another RM14 million request to bring the total renovation cost to RM99 million.
Although Samy Vellu kept saying that it was “Parliament” which had increased its requests from RM49 million to RM85 million and now RM99 million, nobody in Parliament seems to know or aware of such requests or sums. Parliament Speaker, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah, for instance said the previous Saturday that the cost of Parliament renovation was RM60 million and not RM80 million – while the members of the Dewan Rakyat House Committee which met for the first time last Friday knew nothing about the renovation, whether the costs or the details.
The Dewan Rakyat Public Accounts Committee (PAC) should conduct a full investigation into the RM85 million Parliament renovation to ensure that Parliament symbolizes democracy and not Third World mentality, workmanship and accountability.
PAC Chairman Datuk Shahrir Samad has said that as the House Committee is pursuing the case of Parliament renovation, the PAC would not ‘interfere” or it would give the impression that there is “no confidence” between the two committees. (Sin Chew 8.5.05)
This is wrong and misguided attitude, as there is nothing whether in the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders, in Commonwealth or international parliamentary practices or in law which prevent more than one body conducting investigations into one particular scandal or issue.
It is not uncommon for instance for the same scandal or issue to be investigated by several different congressional committees in the United States, each taking a different emphasis or approach depending on its terms of reference.
This should be emulated here, as the House Committee and the PAC have different functions and powers.
The PAC has very different jurisdiction, mandate and powers from the House Committee. It is not concerned with policy, but in whether policy is carried out efficiently, effectively and economically. Its main functions are to see that public moneys are applied for the purposes prescribed by Parliament, that extravagance and waste are minimized and that sound financial practices are encouraged in estimating and contracting, and in administration generally. To enable it to carry out such oversight responsibilities, Dewan Rakyat Standing Order 77(5) provides that “The Committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and records” – including the power to summon a Minister to appear before it to give evidence.
The House Committee, however, does not have such investigatory powers of the PAC.
Under Dewan Rakyat Standing Order 79(1), the House Committee is mandated “to consider and advise Tuan Yang di Pertua upon all matters connected with the comfort and convenience of and services and amenities available to members of House”. Furthermore, the same Standing Order specifically provides that the House Committee “shall not have power to send for persons, documents or papers unless the House so resolves”.
I therefore call on the PAC Chairman and PAC to convene an emergency meeting to conduct a full investigation into the RM85 million Parliament renovation to ensure that Parliament symbolizes democracy and not Third World mentality, accountability and shoddy workmanship, as only the PAC and not the House Committee has such vast investigatory powers.
* Lim Kit Siang,
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman