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  Media Conference Statement by Lim Kit Siang at Penang DAP Hqrs on Tuesday, 12th February 2008 at 12 noon:

Will tomorrow�s Cabinet meeting be the last with Abdullah asking the Yang di Pertuan Agong for dissolution of Parliament?

This may be the last day that I am speaking as Parliamentary Opposition Leader for the 11th Parliament if the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in his audience with the Yang di Pertuan Agong tomorrow before the weekly Cabinet meeting asks for the dissolution of Parliament � which would also mean the last Cabinet meeting tomorrow.

This will be most unfortunate for the Prime Minister would be showing scant respect and sensitivity to Pai Tiang Gong on the ninth day and Chap Goh Mei on the 15th day of the Chinese New Year � another offense and insensitivity to the diverse cultures and religions in Malaysia in a matter of three months after the holding of the UMNO general assembly on Deepavali last November.

Last Monday, I received a notice from Parliament calling for oral and written questions for the first meeting of the fourth session of the 11th Parliament, which will be declared open by the Yang di Pertuan Agong on 17th March 2008, giving MPs the deadline of February 22 to submit their written and oral questions for the 22-day sitting of Parliament till April 24, 2008.

It is a waste of public funds, resources and time for Parliament to rush out parliamentary notice for the March 17-April 24, 2008 to all MPs by pos laju when it is clear the 11th Parliament will not sit again in March.

It is also ridiculous to expect MPs to prepare and submit questions by Feb. 22 for the March 17-April 24, 2008 parliamentary meeting, when everybody expects a dissolution if not tomorrow at least latest by the third week of February.

I call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to make a clear-cut public announcement whether Parliament will be dissolved for general election to be held before March 17, so that MPs, whether Barisan Nasional or Opposition, need not waste time preparing and submitting parliamentary questions for a parliamentary meeting that would not be held.

Something is very wrong with Abdullah�s system of governance if he cannot make such a simple clarification.

One of the trademarks which Abdullah wants his premiership to be identified is to transform Malaysia from a �First-World Infrastructure, Third-World Mentality� to �First-World Infrastructure, First-World Mentality� nation.

In the past 51 months of his premiership however, Abdullah�s call for �first-world infrastructure, first-world mentality� had fallen on deaf ears and had remained at the sloganeering level � as there was no serious venture to translate it into action with new government benchmark and a new national ethos.

In my first speech when I returned to Parliament in May 2004, I stressed that parliamentary reform and modernization is the first critical test whether there is the political will to transform Malaysia into a first-world nation, not only in infrastructure, but in mentality, mindset and culture starting with a First World Parliament.

In the past four years, Parliament has failed on both counts. Over RM100 million was spent to give it a �five-star hotel� glitzy appearance but it still leaks cats and dogs when there is a heavy downpour � even when Parliament is meeting!

But in terms of substance in moving towards a First-World Parliament in the past four years, the report card is a dismal failure.

In my first speech on my return to Parliament on 20th May 2004 during the debate on the Royal Address, I listed 12 proposals for Malaysia to have a �First World Parliament� not only in infrastructure, but mindset, culture, practices and performance, viz:

� live telecast of parliamentary proceedings;
� daily two-hour question time;
� Prime Minister�s Question Time twice a week;
� Opposition MP heading the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
� some 30 specialist Parliamentary Select Committees with a Select Committee for every Ministry;
� about ten general Parliamentary Select Committees to produce annual reports on progress, trends and recommendations on national integrity, IT, women�s agenda, environment, mass media, corruption, etc;
� allocation of certain days a week specifically to deal with Opposition business;
� research and constituency staffing for MPs.
� an Opposition Deputy Speaker
� modernization and democratization of Standing Orders
� code of ethics for all MPs.
� Ministers� Parliamentary code of conduct

The 11th Parliament has failed each of these 12 tests of modernization and reform because of the utter lack of leadership by the Prime Minister. In fact, in his four years as Prime Minister, Abdullah has the dubious distinction of registering the lowest parliamentary attendance for any Prime Minister in Malaysian parliamentary history despite having the most number of Ministerial portfolios!

The failure of the 11th Parliament must be rectified in the new 12 Parliament to be elected soon.
It is only by having at least 75 Opposition MPs, which will also deny the Barisan Nasional its unbroken and suffocating two-thirds parliamentary majority, that there could be any surety that serious efforts would be initiated for parliamentary modernization and reform to usher in a First-World Parliament.

This is another reason why I am calling on the 11 million voters in the upcoming general election to elect at least 75 Opposition MPs to ensure that Malaysia has a �First-World Parliament� to give new meaning to democracy in Malaysia.

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


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