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Rafidah should explain in
Parliament next week the outrageous scandal of 22-year Prime Minister Dr.
Mahathir being “taken for a ride” into publicly endorsing Naza Kia as
national car when he had never given approval
by Lim Kit Siang
(Ipoh, Saturday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has more than once directed Cabinet members to set a good example of parliamentary responsibility and accountability by attending parliamentary meetings to answer questions from MPs and to reply to their speeches in debates.
However, this directive to Cabinet Ministers had been observed more in the breach in the past two years of Abdullah’s premiership.
A quick survey of this week’s parliamentary meeting shows the following breakdown figures for the Question Hour from Monday to Thursday:
Questions replied by Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries during Question Time from Monday (10.10.05) to Thursday (13.10.05)
Date Minister Dy Minister Parliamentary Sec. Total
10.10.05 2 2 3 7
11.10.05 4 2 2 8
12.10.05 0 7 2 9
13.10.05 3 2 3 8
Total 9 (28%) 13 (41%) 10 (31%) 32
Thus, out of the 32 questions answered orally during the Question Time from Monday to Thursday, only nine were answered by Ministers representing a pathetic 28 per cent, 13 by Deputy Ministers or 61% and 10 questions by Parliamentary Secretaries or 31%.
This is totally unsatisfactory, and would be regarded as a parliamentary scandal in First-World Parliaments which Malaysia seeks to attain, as Ministers in First World Parliaments take their Ministerial responsibility and accountability to Parliament very seriously and would not be absent from Parliament or delegate their parliamentary duties either to Deputy Minister or parliamentary secretary unless there are very important affairs of state or unavoidable contingencies.
The Prime Minister should lay down a 80% Cabinet rule requiring Ministers to answer at least 80 per cent of all questions that come up during the Question Time and not a miserable 28 per cent at the moment.
As Monday is the start of a three-day Ministerial winding-up of the 2006 Budget debate in Parliament, Abdullah should issue a stern directive to all Cabinet Ministers, particularly Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz, the Minister for International Trade and Industry and the Minister with the worst record in playing truant from parliamentary duties, to personally reply in Parliament in the winding-up unless they have important matters of state which must be disclosed in the House. There should be a minimum score of at least 80 per cent for Ministers personally responding to MPs in the 2006 Budget debate.
All eyes will be on Rafidah on her reply to the mountain of questions about the AP scandal and the national automotive policy, especially with the revelation by former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as to how he had, as Prime Minister, been “taken for a ride” as to announce the Naza Kia as a “national car” when he was invited to the Naza Kia launching ceremony on 27th August 2003.
Dr. Mahathir told a TV3 interview last night that he never approved Naza Kia as a national car. He said:
“Of course, when I was asked to launch this car, I went there. I was a bit startled that this had become a national car, but it was too late for me to walk out.
“But when I went back to Cabinet and asked why is this (Naza) car given national status, and the reply was that I had approved. I said I did not approve. And then it is said that it is already done and there is nothing we can do about it.”
Parliament is entitled to the fullest explanation from Rafidah as to her role where the powerful Dr. Mahathir, after being Prime Minister for 22 years, could be “taken for a ride” (or in Chinese colloquialism “eat dead cat”) as to announce the “national car” status for Naza Kia, on the ground that Dr. Mahathir had given his approval when it was never the case This is a most shocking way of running a government – involving a Prime Minister in his 22nd year in office.
Let Rafidah come to Parliament on Monday or Tuesday when MITI’s turn comes up for winding-up, to give her side of the outrageous scandal of the 22-year Prime Minister “being taken for a ride” into lending public personal endorsement to Naza Kia as a national car completely against his knowledge and will.
Rafidah cannot give the reason of her kneecap replacement surgery as excuse to be absent from Parliament, as she was up-and-about two days after the operation, giving long newspaper interviews, receiving the visiting Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Shoichi Nakagawa to discuss WTO and trade matters as well as attending to official MITI business.
Rafidah should give early notice whether she requires Parliament to arrange for her attendance in a wheelchair or whether her Ministry can make its own wheelchair arrangement to send her to Parliament.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman