Cabinet should decide on live telecast of Parliament on Wednesday or allow DAP parliamentary caucus to provide live webcast with a RM500,000 start-up grant as we do not require RM54 million as estimated by Kadir
Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Monday): Last month, the Information Minister, Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said the government had decided not to provide live telecast of Parliament sitting because it will be too costly and time-consuming, as it would cost RTM RM100,000 just to telecast one hour of the sitting which lasted for the whole day.
Kadir’s negativity is symptomatic of the triple sickness of the Malaysian leadership 46 years after the nation’s Independence:
I am very skeptical that Kadir was telling the truth when he said that the government had decided not to provide live telecast of Parliament sitting because it will be too costly. Is he seriously suggesting that the Cabinet had met after the March 21, 2004 general election and taken a policy decision on the matter?
If so, I am shocked that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet should have made such a hasty, ill-considered and haphazard decision before the fullest consultation with MPs, particularly the Opposition, and the civil society. This does not bode well for the fulfillment of Abdullah’s pledge for a more open, accountable, transparent, people-oriented and trustworthy government!
I will like to find out from the Prime Minister whether it is true, and if so why, he and the Cabinet have taken the arbitrary decision not to provide live telecast of Parliament without the fullest consultation or review of the whole subject of parliamentary reform and modernization, in keeping with his pledge of “Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang” - Excellence, Glory, Distinction – and why his commitment to root out the “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” Malaysian malaise has slackened.
I find Kadir’s claim that it will cost RTM RM100,000 just to telecast one hour of Parliament sitting unbelievable and throat-cutting. If Kadir is right, and at the rate of RM100,000 per hour of live telecast, it will cost some RM54 million to provide live telecast of parliamentary sittings of both Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara for this year.
Parliament has provided the 2004 schedule for three parliamentary meetings with a total of 89 sitting days, i.e. 65 days for Dewan Rakyat and 24 days for Dewan Negara, as follows:
Taking an average of six hours per sitting (day), Kadir’s cost of providing live telecast of Parliament for Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara will be the staggering sum of some RM53.4 million i..e. 89 x 6 x RM100,000.
Kadir and the Cabinet should realize that in the present era of globalization and information and communication technology, the inability or refusal to provide live telecast of parliamentary proceedings is one trademark of a “Third World Parliament”.
The Cabinet should decide on the live telecast of Parliament on Wednesday or allow DAP parliamentary caucus to provide live webcast with a RM500,000 start-up grant as we do not require RM54 million as estimated by Kadir.
I invite Malaysians who have special expertise to provide live webcast of Parliament in the most technically-competent and cost-effective manner as in keeping with a public service to volunteer their services. They can contact me at 012 – 2812828.
Last Thursday, Kadir splashed taxpayers’ monies by organizing a Ministry of Information banquet at Auditorium Perdana, Angkasapuri to celebrate the Barisan Nasional landslide general election victory. Among the guests-of-honour were the Prime Minister, the Dewan Rakyat Speaker, Tun Dr. Mohamed Zahir Ismail, Dewan Negara President Tan Sri Dr. Abdul Hamid Pawanteh and Cabinet Ministers.
This is a gross, tasteless and shocking waste of public funds, and there can be no justification why some RM200,000 to RM300,000 of taxpayers’ money should be squandered for the Information Ministry to organize a banquet to celebrate the Barisan Nasional election victory.
If such a precedent is allowed, millions of ringgit of public funds would be wasted, with Ministries and government departments competing with each other in organizing banquets to celebrate the Barisan Nasional election victory.
The money illegally and wrongfully spent on the Information Ministry banquet to celebrate the Barisan Nasional election victory should be better spent on providing live telecast of Parliament to ensure greater parliamentary accountability and higher quality of parliamentary performance.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman & Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor