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Protest to Prime Minister at the absence of Ministers in Parliament to give proper and satisfactory answers on national issues of public importance
(Parliament, Wednesday) : I have written to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to protest at the absence of Ministers in Parliament to give proper and satisfactory answers on national issues of public importance.
I gave two instances of what happened in Parliament yesterday. The first concerned the long-drawn-out controversy over government statistics and data about bumiputra equity stake with three conflicting figures given on bumiputera equity ownership at Bursa Saham; (i) 36.6% as stated by Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Dr. Awang Adek in Parliament on 7th November 2006; (ii) 21.8% by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Senator Datuk Seri Effendi Norwawi in a statement outside Parliament just before the start of Umno general assemblies on November 13, 2006; and (iii) 33.7% in 1997, according to the University of Malaya research study entitled “Bumiputeras in the Corporate Sector – Three decades of performance 1970-2000”, by Dr. M. Fazilah Abdul Samad in 2002.
Effendi should be in Parliament to give full and satisfactory explanation for such conflicting figures, including honouring the Prime Minister’s public undertaking to make public all the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) methodology and data to restore public trust and confidence in official statistics and data instead of leaving it to the Deputy Minister Senator Datuk Abdul Rahman Suliman who only added confusion to the brew.
The second instance was the absence of the Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu during the winding-up of the debate on the 2007 Budget estimates for the Works Ministry, as the Parliamentary Secretary, Datuk Yoong Khoon Seng admitted that he was in no position to give any answer on the following issues which I had raised:
The question of a Cabinet reshuffle is again in the news. After the great disappointment of a jumbo-sized Cabinet despite the unprecedented landslide victory in the March 2004 general election, with events in the past three years confirming the critique of the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that it is “a half-past six Cabinet”, Malaysians do not have high expectations that a Cabinet reshuffle will usher in any real change or reform.
Cabinet reshuffle or otherwise, the Prime Minister should ensure that his Ministers must be responsible enough to attend Parliament to answer questions and reply to debates to meet the most elementary requirements of accountability and not to pass the buck to deputy ministers and parliamentary secretaries whose stock answers are to promise to give written answers subsequently.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman