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Disgraceful that in the past 12 Parliamentary sittings, only two Ministers had turned up from the 15 Ministries to reply during the 2007 Budget committee stage debate when they have a total of 22 Ministers
(Petaling Jaya, Sunday) : The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz is insulting the intelligence of Members of Parliament and the Malaysian public when he claimed that Cabinet Ministers who do not attend Parliament are not “insulting” the Dewan Rakyat.
Nazri said in Penang yesterday that although their attendance is important, people must understand that ministers have other duties and commitments that are equally important.
Nazri is defending the indefensible and excusing the inexcusable. It is rare that there will be occasions when a Minister can claim that they have more important duties and commitments which could not be rescheduled to justify their parliamentary absence to reply to questions or debates, as parliamentary accountability must be the top priority and responsibility of every Minister in a
parliamentary democracy where Parliament is taken seriously, and not just as a rubber stamp of the Executive.
Dewan Rakyat has met for 12 days on the committee stage debate of the 2007 Budget, where the budget next year for each Ministry is debated before it is adopted.
It is disgraceful that only two Ministers had turned up in Parliament in the past 12 sittings from the 15 Ministries which had their budgets passed, although they have a total of 22 Ministers. The two Ministers were Nazri himself and the Minister for Natural Resources and Environment, Dato Seri Azmi Khalid.
For the other Ministries and portfolios, the responsibility of winding up the debates was just left to the Parliamentary Secretary, as if Deputy Ministers are also finding it beneath their level to come to Parliament to reply and stand in for their Ministers.
Nazri had also made another claim which does not bear examination - that if a minister was unable to attend the Parliament sitting, “there is always his deputy or the parliamentary secretary who can answer on his or her behalf”.
This is why I had written a letter to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi last Wednesday to protest against the constant absence of Ministers from Parliament to reply on subjects pertaining to their ministries, and the “half-past six” replies given by Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries.
I had in particular complained about the reply by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Works Ministry, Datuk Yoong Khoon Seng last Tuesday who admitted that he was in no position to give any answer on the issues which I had raised, such as:-
I was promised a written reply to these issues but I have not received any to date.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should reprimand Ministers who have forgotten his earlier directive wanting them to set a good example to Barisan Nasional MPs on their attendance and seriousness in the discharge of their parliamentary duties.
Early this month, the Dewan Rakyat had to adjourn half-an-hour earlier because of no quorum of the requisite 26 MPs, although Barisan Nasional commands over 91 per cent of the seats with 199 MPs. How can the Prime Minister and Government Whip demand greater discipline among the Barisan Nasional backbenchers when Ministers are so blatant in their disregard of their most elementary parliamentary duties?
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman