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Samy Vellu should personally appear before the PAC to answer questions relating to his Ministry if his officials are too busy to attend


Press Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Kota Kinabalu
, Wednesday) : Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu’s outburst yesterday, ticking off the PAC Chairman Datuk Shahrir Samad, for “meddling in the affairs of the Works Ministry”, is most uncalled-for and unwarranted, a typical manifestation of a “third world” mentality of  Ministers who are unaccustomed to and uncomfortable with close parliamentary scrutiny in “first-world” democracies.

Samy Vellu accused Shahrir of seeking cheap publicity and said the PAC could not keep asking ministry officials to attend its  meetings just so that it would be able to give press conferences.

He said he had asked the director-general to give written answers to questions from the PAC in future rather than send officers to the meeting.

He added: ‘We can’t waste our time. We only have a limited time to implement projects.”

Samy Vellu’s outburst is most deplorable and must be censured, particularly when he equated parliamentary proceedings like PAC meetings as “a waste of time”.  Is this the reason why Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries had played truant from parliamentary meetings until the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had to repeatedly remind Ministers about the importance of their attending to their duties in  Parliament to account for their departmental responsibilities?

This is a typical case of “kacang lupa kulit” as Ministers are in the first instance Members of Parliament – and will never be in the Cabinet if they are not MPs.

Samy Vellu is also treading on dangerous ground when he unilaterally and arbitrarily directed his director-general to give written answers instead of sending officers to PAC meetings, as he is exposing the officials in his Ministry to punitive actions by Parliament for parliamentary contempts.

The PAC in Malaysia will become the laughing-stock of Commonwealth Parliaments and the world if Ministry officials can defy summons by the PAC to appear before it  by insisting on sending written answers!

Samy Vellu should personally appear before the PAC to answer questions relating to his Ministry if his Ministry officials are too busy to attend.  In the process, he will be making a significant contribution to parliamentary reform and modernization in Malaysia in setting the precedent of Ministers appearing before parliamentary committees – which is a rarity in Malaysia while a common occurrence in “first-world” parliamentary democracies.

Samy Vellu is particularly annoyed that the PAC and Shahrir are continuously questioning the scrapped crooked half-bridge project.

I am not very happy with the PAC as it is not aggressive and nimble-footed  enough to get to the bottom of the crooked half-bridge scandal.

Parliament was told in April that the costs  of the cancellation of the RM1.1 billion crooked half-bridge was RM350 million, i.e. RM100 million compensation to contractor Gerbang Perdana and RM250 million to build a new highway joining the  new Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex in Johor to the Causeway.

Now these costs seemed to have ballooned to over RM1 billion, comprising (i) RM100 million compensation, (ii) RM470 million instead of the RM250 million eight-lane elevated highway from the new CIQ to the Causeway because of related works such as connecting roads and amenities; (iii) RM160 million which had already been spent on the crooked half-bridge before it was cancelled; and (iv) RM380 million demand for land premium by the Johore State Government.

There are many questions which PAC will be remiss in its duties to Parliament if it fails to get proper and accurate answers from the Works Ministry – for instance, why the eight-lane 800 metre-long elevated highway is so expensive when the average cost of quality eight-lane elevated highways meeting international standards is between RM75 million to 80 million?

If Samy Vellu obstructs and sabotages the PAC from discharging its duties and responsibilities assigned to it by Parliament, then Samy Vellu should be hauled before the Privileges Committee for contempt and breach of parliamentary privileges.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should countermand the misconceived directive of Samy Vellu to his  director-general that the Works Ministry officials boycott attendance of PAC meetings and instead send written answers to the PAC and educate all Ministers about their fundamental duty to account to Parliament and parliamentary committees.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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