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Remove the haze on the APs issue - Abdullah should clarify whether Cabinet had imposed a clampdown including in Parliament  on all questions about accountability, transparency and integrity concerning issuance of APs in the past 18 years  

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Monday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should remove the haze on the APs issue and  clarify whether the Cabinet last week had imposed a clampdown including in Parliament on all questions about accountability, transparency and integrity concerning the  issuance of APs in the past 18 years although the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz  has been stripped of the APs responsibility.

The Prime Minister and the Cabinet have the powers to strip Rafidah of two strategic functions of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, i.e. the drafting of the National Automotive Policy and the review of the issuance of APs, but they cannot impose a blanket ban on all public discussion and demand for accountability for her mishandling of the AP issue for the past 18 years – which would be unfair to both the Malaysian public as well as to Rafidah herself.

Such a clampdown  run in direct  counter to the pledge by Abdullah to lead an administration which is people-oriented,  clean, incorruptible, accountable and trustworthy as well as setting the most undesirable precedent of  granting Rafidah immunity and impunity from any abuses and excesses of ministerial power.  Will this be the fourth time Rafidah is to be “saved” by a serving Prime Minister?

Are Members of Parliament, whether government or opposition, now barred from demanding for answers and accountability from Rafidah for her 18-year responsibility over the APs issue when Parliament reconvenes for the 2006 budget session on September 19?

If the Cabinet had imposed such a clampdown last week, it should be removed on Wednesday as Rafidah should neither be denied the right to defend herself, including making public her 29-page explanation, nor provided with immunity and impunity from accountability and transparency for her 18-year AP responsibility.

Barisan Backbenchers Club Chairman Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad has called for Rafidah’s  resignation as  Minister for International Trade and Industry  for commenting last Friday on the AP  issue despite a cabinet “gag” on her. Shahrir said  Rafidah   should quit if she finds it hard to respect the cabinet’s decision not to comment on the issue of AP and that she “should stop making a fool of herself by talking about matters which are no longer under her ministry”.

Nobody can fault Shahrir for demanding Rafidah’s resignation for mishandling of the APs saga or failing to give a proper accounting of her 18-year APs responsibility, but it will be most unfair for Shahrir to demand for Rafidah’s resignation for trying to explain and defend  her position on the APs issue.



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

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