Parliament has become a  laughing-stock in the country  as a result of Nor Omar’s allegations of excessive “non-meeting” parliamentary claims by MPs, and unless satisfactory and immediate action is taken to root out all such abuses, whether government or opposition, the credibility and integrity of Parliament have  suffered a grievous and irreparable  blow

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaMonday): Parliament has become a laughing-stock  in the country as a result of  the allegation of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Nor Omar last Wednesday of  excessive  “non-meeting” parliamentary claims by Members of Parliament, and  unless satisfactory and immediate action is taken to root out all such abuses by MPs, whether government or opposition, the credibility and integrity of Parliament have  suffered a grievous and irreparable  blow. 

Yesterday, Kelantan UMNO Youth lodged two separate police reports against the PAS MP for Jeli, Mohd Apandi Mohamad who had been specially named by Nor as the “champion” of excessive parliamentary  claims of over RM10,000 a month for 10 out of 12 months last year, and every month for the first half of this year – chalking up RM132,000 for the ten months last year and RM78,356.96 for the first six months of this year. 

The question of excessive and abuses of “non-meeting” parliamentary claims by Members of Parliament is a serious issue, which concerns the credibility and integrity of Parliament and must  transcend party politics and individuals MPs, and should never become a “political football” by political parties to kick around to score political points. 

There is no business for the Kelantan UMNO Youth to lodge police reports against Apandi, for two reasons: 

  • Firstly, this is trespassing on the privileges of Parliament to regulate its own affairs, including protecting its privileges of MPs, such as investigating and punishing  MPs for serious breaches without any outside interference, which is why there is the Committee of Privileges  to deal with all breaches of privileges by MPs, including excessive and abuses of parliamentary claims.
  • Secondly, what guarantee is there that UMNO  as well as Barisan Nasional MPs have not also been guilty of excessive and abuses of “non-meeting” parliamentary claims – whether above or below RM10,000 a month?

Omar Nor had done Parliament and all MPs, whether ruling or opposition, a grave disservice in his reckless  “expose” of excessive  parliamentary claims just to target the PAS MP for Jeli, without making a clear distinction between “meeting” and “non-meeting” parliamentary claims, thereby subjecting all MPs to public suspicion, ridicule, odium and contempt for being far from honest and scrupulous in the highest political and legislative chamber in the land.

When Parliament is in session, MPs are entitled to submit “meeting”  claims which include  hotel or accommodation, meeting, living, mileage and other allowances according to the parliamentary regulations. 

Let us use   as an illustration  the budget meeting last October, when Parliament met for  19 days  in a  five- week stretch.

Every MP, whether from Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah or Sarawak who  recorded  full attendance, would be entitled to the following “meeting” claims: 

(1)   meeting allowance @ RM150 a day -  RM150 x 19 =  2,850

(2)   Hotel allowance @ RM 230 a day –     RM230 x 24 =  5,520

(3)   Living Allowance @ RM100 a day -      RM100 x 29 = 2,900

                                                                      Total  RM   11,270 

(Note: Hotel allowance calculated at 24 days  for the five weeks last October as MPs are allowed an extra  day of hotel stay a week to enable MPs to arrive a day before the meeting. Living allowance calculated at 29 days as MPs are allowed two extra days, one before and one after the meeting week, to arrive and  leave Kuala Lumpur for home. MPs who do not stay in hotels can claim accommodation allowance of RM80 a day.) 

From these three items alone, an MP would have exceeded RM10,000 parliamentary claims last October  without taking into account other claims, such as laundry and telephone bills in hotels and mileage/airfare  claims once a week to and from home.  

For instance, for an MP from Penang Island, the weekly  mileage claim at 60 sen per kilometer for the two-way  740 kilometre distance including toll charges would be in the region of RM520 a week or RM 2,600 last October (five weeks), bringing the total which could be claimed to RM11,270 + RM2,600 = RM13,870. 

If the Penang Island MP had not stayed  in hotels, he/she  could only claim accommodation allowance of RM80 a day instead of the RM230 hotel allowance a day, but  the  parliamentary claims for full attendance of the five-week 19-day budget meeting for October last year would also be over RM10,000, as follows: 

(1)     Meeting allowance @ RM150 a day -            RM150 x 19 =  2,850

(2)     Accommodation allowance @ RM 80 a day - RM 80 x 24 =  1,920

(3)     Living Allowance @ RM100 a day -                RM100 x 29 = 2,900

(4)     Mileage and toll claims  -                                RM 520 x 5 =  2,600

                                                                                 Total    RM 10,270 

From the above particulars, all  MPs who recorded full attendance for the 19-day parliamentary sittings last October and stayed in hotels should be submitting “meeting claims” of  well over RM10,000 for the month, with the overwhelming majority of all  other MPs who do not stay at hotels  at the plus-or-minus RM10,000-figure. 

From the parliamentary regulations, MPs who did not claim above RM10,000 a month for last October would have either under-claimed or under-attended the budget meeting. 

What is  shocking however, and even news to me although I had been MP for 30 years from 1969 to 1999, is that  “non-meeting” claims by MPs could exceed RM10,000 a month, when they receive invitations to Federal, State and government agency functions – which is clearly indefensible and waste of public funds. 

This is why all  the 16 MPs from both sides of the House named by Nor should publicly clarify whether their parliamentary  claims exceeding RM10,000 a month were “meeting claims” or “non-meeting” claims.  Furthermore, if it is wrong for an MP to  have monthly  “non-meeting” claims exceeding RM10,000, it cannot be right when they are  below RM10,000 a month.

This is why the parliamentary claims of all MPs, whether Barisan Nasional, Barisan Alternative or DAP, both “meeting” and “non-meeting”, after the 1999 general election, should be made public and explanations given for  excessive claims to assure the public of no abuse of parliamentary privilege.

If MPs ignore this issue, a cloud will have descended on all Members of Parliament, gravely throwing into doubt the credibility and integrity of the 10th Parliament. There are  two options before Parliament  – the Committee of Privileges  should swing into action to investigate into the whole matter  or set up a five-men inquiry  committee comprising MPs and former MPs nominated by the consensus of both ruling and opposition parties to investigate and to make recommendations to clear the name of Parliament and MPs.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman