The Parliament questions that were never to be

It’s that sinking feeling that you get in your tummy, made worse by waves of nausea.

Not that I am physically unwell. But as a lawmaker, I feel robbed of my voice and my chance to raise legitimate and crucial issues in Parliament.

And by this, I mean matters that are of concern to my constituents, myself and many Malaysians.

I wanted more answers to the mystery-shrouded plea-bargain, which has seen Riza Aziz given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.

Why should the former Prime Minister, Najib Razak’s, stepson be let off the hook just because he has agreed to return a portion of the money that belonged to the 1Malaysia Development Fund (1MDB)?

The fact that Riza committed an offence remains, doesn’t it, even if he now wants to testify against Najib?

And according to former Attorney-General, Tommy Thomas, the cash was going to be sent back to Malaysia by the US Department of Justice anyway.

So, why the rush and who ordered the discharge, since Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has denied any involvement?

My next question would have been about the billions allocated for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to ensure that the businesses do not retrench its workers.

But the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) says workers have still been laid off or forced to take pay cuts despite employers benefiting from the RM10 billion Special Relief Fund meant to mitigate the Covid-19 crisis.

This is part of the RM100 billion allocation in wage subsidies under the RM260 billion Prihatin stimulus package aimed to keep the sector from collapsing and prevent mass layoffs.

Unfortunately, some 620,000 workers have already lost their jobs and this includes SME layoffs.

And so just like the MTUC, I would certainly have asked Parliament to show the list of beneficiaries and details of cash aid received by them.

I would have also questioned if the government plans on distributing cash or food vouchers to the estimated 5.6 million informal workers, who make up 39.5 percent of the total workforce in the country as government aid doesn’t extend to include them.

And I would have of course requested the government to include the many women who have fallen through the cracks of the Covid-19 stimulus package: domestic violence survivors, non citizens and female-led households as pointed out by Women’s Aid Organisation.

Over the last two weeks we have seen a rather disturbing trend of a lockdown, which is followed by raids to nab undocumented migrant workers.

I would have reminded the government of its failure to go after Malaysian employers, middlemen and agents.

And raised concerns over the risk of Covid-19 infections in immigration detention centres, especially since five Myanmar nationals who returned to their country have been found to be positive.

But unfortunately, like I said, I and many other colleagues have had their voices muted by the one-day Parliament.

I still can’t wrap my head around why, with the advancement of technology, we couldn’t have held a remote Parliament sitting.

Or why an e-Parliament wasn’t on the cards, when e-business, e-learning and e-government are.

Or maybe this is how a back-door government typically behaves.

MP FOR KLANG
Media statement by Charles Santiago in Klang on Wednesday, 20th May 2020