9th April 2021
Accountability And Transparency Are Not Limited To Publishing Spending Amounts On Government Gazettes, And Is A Mockery Of Parliament
DAP questions Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz’s spurious claim that transparency, accountability, and most importantly parliamentary democracy can be still upheld by simply publishing the amount spent on government gazettes. Merely publishing on Federal or state government gazettes the amount of spending done under emergency powers, is by no means tantamount to observing transparency or accountability. This makes a mockery of Parliament.
What is required is full parliamentary debate that embraces the right of advice, dissent, and consent of MPs performing their duty of parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over public spending. Zafrul did not deny that Parliament was bypassed when emergency powers was granted to one person to approve the supplementary budget for additional spending to overcome the Covid-19 crisis, and assist those economically affected by the pandemic.
Further, publishing the spending amounts approved on government gazettes is nothing new as previous Supplementary Budgets were also published on government gazettes. Just publishing spending amounts on government gazettes cannot supplant Parliament’s legislative authority.
DAP leaders had given our assurance of full support should Parliamentary meetings be convened to pass supplementary budgets for COVID-19 spending. DAP will neither support nor move any no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin should Parliament be convened before 1 August. There is no need to use emergency powers to approve supplementary budgets when Parliament can still approve them after the Emergency expires on 1 August, as long as it is done before 31st December.
Refusing to convene Parliamentary meetings is an act of treachery by PN against Parliament and the Federal Constitution. There is no reason for Parliament to remain closed when business establishments, schools, and even sports stadiums have opened. Further, why can’t Parliament meet when all MPs have already been vaccinated?
The nation’s tens of billions of ringgit can now be determined by one person instead of going through the check and balance system of parliamentary democracy. Parliament is the correct platform to check abuses of power, financial misappropriation, and misuse of public funds for political purposes, just like the RM85.5 million allocation for the Department of Community Communications (J-KOM) that was slashed to RM40.5 million after protests by MPs.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth this year at 6.5 % as compared to the World Bank’s forecast of 6%. This specific figure by IMF and the World Bank contrast with the Malaysian government’s uncertain prediction ranging from 6-7.5% GDP growth for 2021. Where then is the accountability and transparency?
Lim Guan Eng