Shahrir should relinquish his post as PAC Chairman if he does not want PAC to pass its most important test of credibility and relevance by conducting a no-holds-barred investigation into the Parliament House renovation scandal

Media Conference Statement (1)
by Lim Kit Siang

(Parliament, Tuesday): Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said in the Dewan Negara yesterday that as at the end of 2004, a total of 215 development projects have been identified as problematic. Of that number, 10 are considered to be major projects – four hospitals, four federal roads, one bridge and one university.

The 215 projects have been facing problems such as being completed more than three months later than scheduled (43 projects), contracts ending but projects still incomplete (83) and contract accounts not being closed (89).

Conspicuously missing in this list is the RM85 million Parliament renovation scandal, as  Parliament and the Malaysian taxpayers are not  getting the full worth of every ringgit spent for  the Parliament renovation with  so many mishaps even before  the full completion of the renovation project, including:

  • Dewan Rakyat chamber ceiling leak;

  • Two Dewan Negara chairs breaking in the morning session of the first sitting after renovation on 3.5.05;

  • Ceiling leak in the Parliament media centre;

  • Frequent power breakdown, both in the chamber and the 17-storey tower block;

  • Sub-standard workmanship, supervision and materials used; and  

  • Disgraceful condition of women toilet highlighted in the Chinese media last week.

Immediately after the premature and disgraceful adjournment of the Dewan Rakyat meeting on April 28 because of rain water pouring into  the chamber from  ceiling leak and cutting of the power supply, Samy Vellu said from Punjab that the Public Works Department (PWD) had to take “full responsibility” for the Dewan Rakyat roof leak. He has been singing a completely different tune, however,  on his return, dismissing it as a “small problem”.

Members of Parliament are still waiting for Samy Vellu to fully explain what he meant when he said the PWD had to take “full responsibility” for the Parliament leak or whether he now regrets and wants to withdraw his Punjab statement.          

At the end of last year, when even Barisan Nasional MPs were calling for his resignation as Works Minister because of the long list of failed government infrastructure projects, like MATRADE Building, highways, schools, hospitals, Samy Vellu was able to claim that PWD should not be held responsible as it had been sidelined by Project Management Consultants (PMCs)  - with PMCs at one time  handling 70 per cent of all government infrastructure developments running into tens of billions of ringgit, leaving  PWD with 30 per cent of the projects.

PWD, however, cannot pass the buck of responsibility for the Parliament renovation scandal to any PMC, as it is fully responsible for the supervision and management of the project.

Members of Parliament and the Malaysian public are still trying to recover from Samy Vellu’s defence of the doubling of the cost of Parliament renovation from RM49 million to RM99 million as “not high”, although there is not an increase of a single square inch of extra space for the use of MPs, who have more than doubled from 104 in 1963 to the present 219 MPs.

For over three decades until the renovation, all MPs were  allocated office space on the 17-storey block, with two MPs sharing an office. I agree that most MPs do not make full use of these office space, but  the main reason is because of the lack of office, secretarial, research  and staff support as in the case of other Parliaments.

With  the RM99 million  renovation, MPs have lost  such office space in Parliament which they had been enjoying for over thirty years – which is going backward instead of forward to make the Malaysian Parliament a First-World Parliament.

Building a duplicate 17-storey tower block to give MPs their individual office space in Parliament as well as housing a multi-storey car park would not cost more than RM50 million.  Why wasn’t this possibility  given serious consideration in the renovation?

The House Committee should take a re-look to salvage the renovation plan to make it  cost-effective, seeking the advice of all MPs.

I want to reiterate my call to the  Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to  conduct a full investigation into the RM85 million Parliament renovation into waste of public funds, extravagance and malpractices, as this is its direct responsibility with its “power to send for persons, papers and records” – including the power to summon a Minister to appear before it to give evidence.  Shahrir should relinquish his post as PAC Chairman if he does not want PAC to  pass its most important test of credibility and relevance by conducting a no-holds-barred investigation into the Parliament House renovation scandal.


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