Current Affairs

Spotlight on Parliament

What goes on in the august house of Parliament besides name-calling and table-thumping? This column collects interesting parliamentary quetions and answers, so you know what your lawmakers are up to. This month’s questions were taken from the Parliamentary Session starting 12 March 2012.

Absurd parliamentary answers

Malaysians “have nothing to worry about” as our national debt is still 2% short of the critical level, said Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin when responding to a parliamentary question by PKR MP for Machang Saifuddin Nasution.

Awang, a former Bank Negara Assistant Governor, told Parliament that the threshold is 55 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, whereas currently we are at 53 percent. The wafer thin 2% margin does not bother Awang Adek, a PhD holder.

“We do not have details.” That was the answer given by Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai when asked by DAP MP for Kota Melaka Sim Tong Hin about:
1. the estimated cost of the 1Care scheme
2. how the federal government intended to raise the funds needed
3. whether it intended to work with the private sector

Instead of answering these questions, MCA vice president Liow gave a speech extolling the virtues of the 1Care system in Parliament and stressed the importance of health for society which is increasingly exposed to the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.

Rejected Parliamentary questions

DAP MP for Bukit Bendera, Liew Chin Tong asked foreign minister Anifah Aman to clarify:
a) The frequency of his presence in day terms in Wisma Putra, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur
b) The frequency of his presence in day terms in Kota Kinabalu and Kimanis
c) The frequency of his presence in day terms overseas for official visits.

In response to his question being rejected, Liew noted that Anifah spent most of his time in Kota Kinabalu or Kimanis “playing politics”, rather than being in foreign countries promoting a more constructive relationship with Malaysia.

“It is embarrassing that only in Malaysia, we see a Tourism Minister (Ng Yen Yen), who is supposed to promote local tourism, spending more time overseas than the Foreign Minister,” he said.

Meanwhile, questions by four DAP MPs on the confidential out-of-court settlement between Danaharta and former Malaysia Airlines boss Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli were also rejected by Parliament, on the grounds that these were sub judice.

DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng rubbished the excuse as it was the government and not the court who decided to forgo the debt owed by Tajudin, despite winning the court case.

A December 2009 High Court decision ordered Tajudin to pay the RM589 million he owed national assets management firm Danaharta. However the parties settled out of court last month, prompted by a Putrajaya directive for all GLCs to cease litigation against the former protégé of Tun Daim Zainuddin.

Malaysians are wondering why these important questions were rejected. -The Rocket

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