Media statement by MP for Bandar Kuching, Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen on 22 April 2021:
The Prime Minister, Tan Sri Mahiaddin bin Yasin must immediately reconvene Parliament and allow the Parliamentary Select Committee to function so that the government can be transparent with their plans to tap into the National Trust Fund (KWAN) reportedly for the procurement of vaccines and related expenditures.
This is in view of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) Government‘s use of their emergency powers to pass a law under the Emergency (National Trust Fund) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 today which allows the current government to use such trust funds which is generally reserved for our future generations without much scrutiny and oversight.
According to the Section 5(c) of National Trust Fund Act 1988, a huge majority of the fund comes from contributions made by states in Malaysia which derive any form of royalty from the exploitation of petroleum or other depleting resources, or in other words, Petronas.
This means that the trust fund was created from our country’s natural resources and is estimated to be worth about RM 16.9 billion currently and since its inception has not been used once as it is reserved mainly for the usage and benefits of our future generations.
In any case, the usage of such funds must go through approval and scrutiny in Parliament so that this money that is for the people is really being spent prudently and efficiently.
At the bare minimum, the Prime Minister should at least allow the Parliamentary Select Committee to function to provide a bipartisan parliamentary oversight over such additional spendings to make sure that it is not abused and is effectively used for its intended target.
The fact of the matter is, Parliament has already passed a budget of RM 3 billion last year for the procurement of the vaccine. Recently, the PN government has also used their emergency powers to increase said budget to RM5 billion without going through Parliament.
So, the fact that the government has to tap into funds that were reserved for future generations shows their failure in managing our country through this crisis not just in terms of managing the spread of Covid-19, but also to uplift our economy on top of jeopardising the future of our future generations.
As a member of Parliament from Sarawak where a huge chunk of the contributions into that trust funds comes from our oil & gas resources, I demand absolute transparency of the government’s plans on how they intend to use such funds and whether the usage is justifiable or not to prevent any hint of abuse.
As the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee of Health, Science and Innovation, I demand that the government allows us to function immediately to provide important Parliamentary oversight, especially over our country’s approach towards Covid-19 and to scrutinise and give feedback in order to ensure the success of our nation’s biggest National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP).
During this pandemic, where billions of public funds of money is being used, it is of utmost importance that all matters, procedures and financial procedures of the country are complied to make sure that people’s money is really being spent prudently and efficiently.
We must be allowed to play an effective role in providing a ‘check and balance’ mechanism in the democratic system to the Government as to promote the spirit of transparency and accountability, especially during this period.