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Call on Abdullah to ensure that Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries fully master their subjects when they come to Parliament to answer questions or reply to debates if Malaysian Parliament Is to become a First-World Parliament
(Parliament, Thursday) : As a result of the Cabinet meeting yesterday and the warning letters to Barisan Nasional (BN) backbenchers by the Government Whip, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, to attend all parliamentary sittings, there is greater presence of Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and BN MPs in Parliament – though accompanied by a palpable atmosphere of frus by the BN backbenchers.
Better parliamentary attendance however is no guarantee of higher quality of parliamentary proceedings, as illustrated by the first oral question today on e-government.
I had in my supplementary question asked about Malaysia’s e-government status and readiness, referring to the authoritative annual Global E-Government Study conducted by Brown University, based on the survey and evaluation of the national government websites of 198 countries.
Electronic government refers to public sector use of the Internet and other digital devices to deliver services and information.
In the 2003 Global E-Government Study, Malaysia was placed in the 8th top spot out of 198 countries, after Singapore, United States, Canada, Australia, Taiwan, Turkey and Great Britain – who occupy the top seven rankings.
In the next two years however, Malaysia’s placing went into a free-fall, plunging to 83rd position in 2004 and 157th position in 2005. In both these two years, Malaysia lost out to other countries, including those in Southeast Asia which lagged behind the country in technological development like Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia and even Myanmar. In fact, for 2005, Malaysia dropped to the bottom of all Asean and Asian countries.
This is illustrated by the following tables:
Brown University Global E-Government Rankings
I had asked the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Senator Datuk Abdul Rahman Suliman who was standing in for the Minister in charge of the portfolio, Senator Datuk Seri Effendi Norwawi, who was as usual absent from Parliament, two queries, (i) why Malaysia had plunged by 75 places in 2004 and another 74 places in 2005 to be placed No. 157, which was lower than Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and Myanmar; and (ii) although Malaysia rebounded to the current 36th placing, we could not return to the top 10 spots as in 2003.
But the question was clearly out of the depths of Abdul Rahman, who said that the government could not accept the Global E-Government Rankings of Brown University and yet asked me to forward to him the annual surveys.
How can Abdul Rahman announce that the government rejects the Global E-Government Rankings when he does not know anything about it, which explains his request for me to hand over the annual surveys of the Brown University to him – which is most shocking by itself when this is the sixth year of the Global E-Government survey.
A front-bencher who has mastered his subject on his fingertips, in this case e-government, would have known about the Brown University Global E-Government Rankings and not be exposed as ignorant about them as happened this morning.
Abdul Rahman’s claim that Malaysia is one of the five top countries in the use of ICT for e-government is not reflected by his reply, which is a sad reflection of the lack of seriousness of the government to use e-government as a major driver of international competitiveness and greater public service productivity and efficiency.
I call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to ensure that Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries fully master their subjects when they come to Parliament to answer questions or reply to debates if Malaysian Parliament Is to become a First-World Parliament
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman