Summary of the speech
by Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Vice-Chairman and MP for Kepong
during the debate on the Supplementary Supply Bill on 1 April, 2002
in Dewan Rakyat, Kuala Lumpur
After the recent ISO 9002 for the Malaysian Parliament, we hope that it can improve on other aspects. Now, there are better things such as the newsroom and the clock at the entrance to the Parliament compound. (We hope that the clock will always be right.) But, recreational facilities such as the tennis court that is bad must be renovated.
ICT such as the Parliamentary Homepage must be upgraded. This requires experts. They may not be keen to work in Parliament. We suggest that Parliament has an establishment for ICT so that its website will always be up-to-date.
It has to review promotions and allowances for all staff members, whether they are from the legal, news, resource, printing or other departments. I have been with them for 20 years. I would like to see that their treatment improves.
ENFORCE THE LAW
On 31 march, 2002, the Barisan Nasional, BN, (Gerakan) retained the Ketari, Bentong, state seat by the majority of 2,204 votes (BN 7153 and DAP 4949). We accept the decision of the voters.
As usual, we bring up the weaknesses in our elections especially by-elections. BN misuses the mass media, the governmental machinery and money to win votes.
Whatever BN leaders crow about its triumph, they must remember that the tide never goes out so far but it always comes in again.
In parliamentary democracy, we need media which do not lean on any side. However, in Malaysia the constrained media make life difficult for us.
BN abuses governmental machinery including TV, radio and information vehicles. Being challenged, it gives lame excuses such as they only do their duties.
Money politics is very obvious. I was told that to get money for the Ketari by-election, every parcel 300 acres of timberland was sold to a crony for RM1 million whereas the market price is many folds that value.
Looking at the handbills, billboards, slogans, banners and so forth, we found an ocean of blue colour that flooded Ketari with occasion drops of red. Along the short road leading to the Benus polling station, there were hundreds of blue billboards and banners. If each billboard cost RM200, then 200 would be RM40,000. The Election Act permits only RM30,000 for each candidate.
This means that in a by-election like Ketari, BN spends tens of millions of ringgit. Therefore, w propose that the Anti-Corruption Agency and the Election Commission investigate this irregularity.
Although BN gives 1001 excuses for such a matter, we must eradicate it. Let us hope that the future generations will be able to enjoy parliamentary democracy in the true sense of the words.
If we estimate the BN expenditure in Ketari as RM20 million, then from where does it get the money? Money does not grow on trees. BN will return favours to the donors.
The Government must investigate money politics that is usually connected with patronage. After a BN leader occupies an important post, he or she gives projects to followers or donors. Some followers or donors may not be interested in the projects, they become brokers or middlemen or manipulators (not entrepreneurs) to get the 5%, 10% or more commission.
This type of corruption has become more sophisticated. I have been told that sometimes a government institution approves a project of say RM1 billion, the manipulator(s) can get RM200 million or more, depending on the situation. (They wheel and deal) and reap the windfall. I have also learned that the manipulators do not have contracts in black and white, only by words of mouth. The transactions take place outside the country and through various channels. How do we get evidence and witnesses? Will offshore banks in (Switzerland), Caymen Island, Jersey, Labuan (I hope it is not involved) and others cooperate in investigations to get rid of money politics?
(We want the police to do their duties well). We must review their pays, allowances and housing (consistent with the current needs). Their housing allowance is not enough to rent a house in cities. Although there are police housing projects, they are not sufficient. We must build more houses for them.
We must replace dilapidated police stations with new ones. Three or four years ago, I repeated this call in this House about stations such as Jinjang and Jalan Bandar (Tun H S Lee; Dang Wangi). The then Deputy Home Minister guaranteed that new stations would be built and advised me not to mention it again. Now, my eyesight must be bad. I have not seen new stations as promised. I am repeating the call.
We must look after police pays, allowances and welfare. We want their good service. We like them to protect our image.
For instance, recently, I paid a visit to the Semenyih Immigrants Detention Camp for the second time (this time with other members of the Public Accounts committee), to see the conditions of the detained immigrants. Although some say that our camps are better than those of other countries, I feel that this is Malaysia. Malaysia can. She has humanitarianism. We don't want to compare the camps with those in other countries that are not humanitarian. We cannot ape Australia that does not treat illegal immigrants well.
Foreign media especially those in Indonesia say that Malaysian police are cruel and corrupt. If this is true, the Home Ministry must take action.
The problems in other countries create immigrants. We bear the burden.
So, we suggest that the government increase allocations for immigrant detention camps and improve their administration such as co-operation with the Prisons Department.
We must improve conditions in immigrant detention camps. Our police have to safeguard the nation's image. We can have co-operation with the prisons. Meanwhile, we must review our prisons system. (The Government builds new prisons.) It must improve the system.
For example, we look at food and treatment of prisoners. We believe that officers and warders are dedicated. However, there are black sheep in prisons as there are in other fields such as police. There are complaints about food and canteen. The price of foods in prisons canteens may be many folds that outside. Opportunists are hand in gloves with a small number of prisons personnel to reap profits. Warders treat prisoners according to the amount the latter can pay. (Drugs and other things are available inside prisons).
We propose that the Government review the prisons system in this country so that we can create a better penal system. (We want to rehabilitate prisoners, not to turn them into even worse criminals.)