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Two reasons why Samy Vellu
went berserk in Parliament yesterday
(Parliament, Friday) : A question many MPs, reporters and observers have been asking is why the Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu went berserk in Parliament yesterday when there was no cause or provocation whatsoever.
In his answer during question time, Samy Vellu had lamented that his Ministry was only a “tool” of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), which was the final decision-maker on tolls and concessions but his Ministry was made to be the scapegoat for all toll hikes.
In my supplementary question I had followed up logically on Samy Vellu’s complaint, saying that if the Works Ministry was a mere “tool” of the EPU and not the deciding authority on tolls and concessions, then the Minister in charge of EPU should be in Parliament to answer questions on the subject and not Samy Vellu – and that person would be the Prime Minister who has authority over EPU but who is absent from Parliament most of the time. This is fully in accordance with the principles of Ministerial responsibility and parliamentary responsibility.
At this innocent and valid question, Samy Vellu blew his top, screaming that I had gone “150% out of topic”, that I was “playing political games” and being a very irresponsible Opposition, that he had never heard of a country where the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers and Deputy Ministers had to attend Parliament sittings “from morning till night”!
I also have not heard of a country where the PM, DPM, ministers and deputy ministers have to attend Parliament “from morning till night”. This was just a red herring by Samy Vellu as I had never raised it as an issue.
Nobody is asking for a PM, DPM, Ministers and Deputy Ministers who are in Parliament “morning and night”, but we also do not want a PM, DPM, Ministers and Deputy Ministers who abdicate and abscond from their parliamentary responsibilities to answer and accountable to MPs for the policies and failures of their Ministries.
Samy Vellu had panicked somewhat for he had given answer which had invited a supplementary question which had raised the issue of the poor parliamentary attendance record of the Prime Minister, who is shaping up to be the worst of all five Prime Ministers in attending to his parliamentary duties – becoming not only an absentee Prime Minister but also absentee Finance Minister and absentee Internal Security Minister during parliamentary meetings.
Furthermore, there is also the acute problem of some Ministers who suffer from the chronic disease of always playing truant from Parliament – the worst offender being the “Queen of Parliament”, the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz.
But shockingly, Rafidah seemed to have become the parliamentary model that Abdullah is emulating, when the Prime Minister should be disciplining MITI Minister to be a more responsible Minister by making her first appearance in the current meeting of Parliament to answer questions and to reply to debates.
With his over a quarter-century experience as Cabinet Minister, Samy Vellu knew that my supplementary question was most valid and pertinent, but he also knew that there was no way he could answer me without embarrassing the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, and that the best option open to him was to avoid it by staging a drama of “going bersek”!
The second reason why Samy Vellu went berserk in Parliament yesterday also had nothing to do with my supplementary question.
The MIC President was clearly under intense pressure for the shameful conduct of MIC Youth Brigade members at the Machap by-election nomination on Tuesday, using MIC flagsticks and bricks to assault two DAP members K. Kannis, 42, and A. Vijayan, 24, and for manhandling, threatening and abusing Malaysia Nanban reporter R. Malini and Makai Osai photographer P. Malayanadi.
The disgraceful MIC Youth Brigade misconduct weighed heavy on his mind because it has become a big issue in the Machap by-election, embarrassing not only the MIC but all the other Barisan Nasional component parties and leaders, forcing them to defend or condone such criminal actions.
Later in Parliament yesterday, the MIC chief and Parliamentary Secretary to the Youth and Sports Ministry, S. Vigneswaran made the ridiculous statement 48 hours after the incident that the MIC Youth were in fact the victims and not the offending culprits of the assault - in utter disregard of the weight of eye-witnesses and photographic evidence.
This must be the most ridiculous press conference ever held by a political movement in the 50-year history of national independence – further straining the credibility of the other Barisan Nasional component parties and leaders in having not only to endorse the despicable assaults committed by MIC Youth Brigade on Machap by-election nomination day, but to be a party to a big lie in claiming that the MIC Youth Brigade were in fact the victims and not the guilty party of the assault incidents!
Samy Vellu would have known that the MIC Youth was planning such a ridiculous press conference, which was not only a grave insult to the intelligence of the other Barisan Nasional component parties and leaders but also to the Machap voters and ordinary Malaysians. This pressure would have contributed considerably to causing the Works Minister to go berserk when I asked a most correct, valid, relevant but very difficult supplementary question to him in Parliament yesterday!
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman