Media Statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Tuesday, 4th November 2008: 

A rare parliamentary sight not seen for decades – eight UMNO Ministers queuing up in Parliament till 11.30 pm last night to reply

A rare parliamentary sight in Parliament for decades – eight Umno Ministers queuing up in Parliament till 11.30 pm yesterday to take their turn to reply in the 2009 Budget debate yesterday.

Clearly, my Sunday speech to the DAP Kuala Lumpur Convention castigating Umno Ministers for neglecting their parliamentary, Cabinet and national responsibilities because of the protracted Umno party elections and suggesting that they take five-month leave so as to ensure that the people and country do not suffer because of their party politicking when Malaysia faces the worst global economic crisis in 80 years has hit home and taken instantaneous effect.

On Thursday, two Umno Ministers, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar and Education Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein played truant from their Ministerial duties when they were absent in the winding-up of their Ministries, passing the buck to their deputy ministers.

If Hamid and Hishammuddin think that their deputy ministers were equal to them and could reply of behalf of their Ministries as effectively as they themselves could, then it is time they resign and give way to their two deputies to become full ministers!

I hope that this unprecedented show of discipline and responsibility is not a “one-shot” affair but will become a directing principle for all responsible Ministers for the rest of the parliamentary term – and we will see Ministers taking full charge of the debate for each Ministry during the 16-day Committee stage debate of the 2009 Budget beginning tomorrow till 4th December 2008.

Yesterday, the Umno Ministers put up a responsible show, but the MCA Ministers fell short, with two MCA Ministers absent from their parliamentary posts during the reply, viz the newly-elected MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Ong Tee Kiat and the newly-elected MCA Vice President and Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen, who had to depend on their deputy ministers to save the day.

There can be no excuse for the absence of Cabinet Ministers from their parliamentary duties for the parliamentary calendar for the Ministerial winding-up in the 2009 budget debate had been fixed many months ahead of schedule and there can be no excuse for Ministers to be away from Parliament, whether overseas or somewhere else in the country.

I hope today, the fourth and last day of the Ministerial winding-up of the 2009 Budget debate, will see other Umno Ministers continue to set a good parliamentary example to their other BN Cabinet colleagues.

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor