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Royal Address in Parliament on
Monday – Will Abdullah redeem his failures in past 40 months to “walk the
talk” of reform agenda to spell out the government’s policy initiatives and
legislation programme for coming year to deliver his reform pledge?
(Ipoh, Saturday) : Every March, the Yang di Pertuan Agong will officially launch Parliament with a Royal Address which spells out the government’s programme for the new year.
The Royal Address is not the personal speech of the Yang di Pertuan Agong but the policy presentation of the government-of-the-day for the next 12 months.
The official opening of the third session of the current 11th Parliament will be on Monday (19th March) by the new Yang di Pertuan Agong for the first time, and Malaysians are entitled to know whether the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will redeem his failures in the past 40 months to “walk the talk” of reform agenda to spell out the government’s policy initiatives and legislation programme for the coming year to finally deliver his reform pledge.
Let me touch on three areas which should be top priority in the Abdullah government’s policy initiatives and legislation programme for the coming year, if Abdullah is to retain credibility and even legitimacy for his unprecedented 91% parliamentary majority in the March 2004 general election.
Firstly, announce a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) and why corruption had worsened in the past three years instead of improving – as reflected not only by the seven-placing drop from No. 37 to 44 in the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) from 2003 to 2006 but also the latest corruption survey last week of Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) that Malaysia is perceived to be more corrupt than the previous year and that Malaysia would soon lose out and be overtaken by China and India in anti-corruption rankings. The Royal Address on Monday should also incorporate the Abdullah premiership’s commitment to introduce legislation to confer full autonomy to the ACA, removing it from the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s Office and making it fully independent and answerable only to Parliament.
Secondly, announce that a Bill to establish the independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) will be taken through all three readings in the forthcoming meeting of Parliament, in view of the worsening crime index as well as the repeated blows to public confidence in the ability of the police to implement the 125 recommendations of the Royal Police Commission to become an efficient, incorruptible, professional world-class police service to combat crime, uphold law and order and respect human rights.
The public reprimand of the Deputy Internal Security Minister, Datuk Johari Baharom by Abdullah, who is also the Internal Security Minister, telling the latter that he should just answer the allegations of bribery without accusing or blaming others has come as another blow to public confidence in the efficiency, effectiveness, professionalism and integrity of the forces with the responsibility to maintain law and order.
Abdullah’s response - “Now that there are allegations, answer the allegations one by one. No need to accuse other people. Just answer all the questions.” – when asked to comment on the ACA investigation into allegations that Johari had received more than RM5mil to release at least three suspects arrested under the Emergency Ordinance raises many questions, including:
Firstly, why has Abdullah taken two long weeks to come out with such a response, which should have been made at most after 24 hours.
Secondly, Abdullah’s unusual comment testifies to the unsatisfactory nature of Johari’s response to the allegations on Internet websites implicating him in a RM5.5 million “freedom for sale” scandal involving Emergency Ordinance (EO) detentions.
There was clearly a finger-pointing exercise between Johari and the police, with Johari loudly proclaiming his innocence while accusing the police of being sloppy, slipshod and using the EO as a “short cut to detain suspects who have insufficient incriminating evidence against them”.
As even the Prime Minister-cum-Internal Security Minister is not satisfied with Johari’s public response, the Deputy Internal Security Minister should present a ministerial statement when Parliament meets on Tuesday to start its working session to give a full and satisfactory accounting of his rebuttal of the RM5.5 million “freedom for sale” allegations. It is clearly invidious and untenable for Johari to continue a single day as Deputy Internal Security Minister when the Prime Minister is not satisfied with his public explanation.
Thirdly, in keeping with Abdullah’s pledge to lead an open, accountable and transparent government, the Royal Address on Monday should contain the government’s commitment to introduce a Freedom of Information Act to replace the Official Secrets Act (OSA). There should also be a firm commitment to remove from the OSA all privatization contracts, whether toll and water concessions, to put them in the public domain for the scrutiny of the Malaysian public.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman