Parliament will become  a joke if Education Minister allowed to answer 32 questions in one go on the use of English to teach maths and science taking about 20-30 minutes, when the  proper thing is  for Musa to make a Ministerial statement followed by a three-hour question-and-answer debate

Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): Sin Chew Jit Poh today reported that the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad would on Monday answer  32 questions from MPs in one go on the new policy to  use  English to teach mathematics and science  in primary schools. 

Musa would be seeking the permission of the Speaker to answer all the 32 questions in one go during question time on Monday, so that he could give a “comprehensive” explanation on the subject. 

The Speaker should refuse permission for such a request, as Parliament will be reduced to a joke if the Education Minister is allowed to answer 32 questions in one go on the “hot” issue on the use of English to teach mathematics and science, taking about 20 to 30 minutes, which would deny  “comprehensive” questioning  by MPs on the subject. 

Musa may regard his answer as “comprehensive” enough, but this  may not be shared by MPs. In any event, the purpose of parliamentary  question time is to allow MPs to have the opportunity have a “comprehensive” scrutiny of the Minister’s performance and conduct, and not to allow the Minister to give what he purports to be  a “comprehensive” answer. 

The proper thing for Musa to do is one of two things:  

  1. categorise  the 32 questions  into at least six groups, depending on the various aspects of the issue, to be answered on six separate occasions during question time in the budget meeting, which would mean the possibility of six Ministerial answers on different aspects of the issue, together with 12 supplementary questions instead of one “Big Bang’ answer followed by at most four supplementary questions on Monday.  

  2. present a Ministerial  statement on the issue  followed by a three hour question-and-hour debate. 

The whole principle of these two alternatives is to do justice both to MPs who have asked 32 questions on the subject and to the issue, which is of great public importance to all Malaysians. 

Although there are past parliamentary precedents where Ministers had been allowed to answer some 30 questions on the same topic in one go, this is a bad precedent which should not be followed or upheld. 

There are many aspects of the issue about the new policy to use English to teach mathematics and science in schools which must be given ample time for parliamentary scrutiny of the conduct or performance of the Education Minister in the past three months, such as: 

There are many other aspects of this issue which warrants fuller Ministerial scrutiny, and to allow Musa to answer 32 questions in one go on Monday is to allow him to abdicate from his responsibility to fully account to Parliament on one of the most important issues  with far-reaching implications about the future competitiveness and prosperity of Malaysia.   


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman