Statement by Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, on 3rd November 1982
Call on Barisan Nasional Ministers and Deputy Minister to set example of being competent and efficient to government officers so as to build an efficient and competent government administration
The 2M government’s call for an efficient and competent administration cannot succeed unless the Ministers and Deputy Ministers themselves set an example of being efficient and competent in their work.
Ministers and Deputy Ministers are becoming more slip-shod in their work, showing lack of grasp of their Ministerial responsibility, and sometimes total ignorance, which can only make them as laughing stocks to government servants.
A good instance is the Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, who on Monday was unable to explain in Parliament why the government was ramming through four motions to increase the sales tax, service tax and excise duties when Parliament had not completed the 1983 Budget debate and approved the Budget.
Dr. Ling had to ask his Treasury officials after the motions were passed about the reasons and he then called a press conference to explain that the motion to confirm increases in the sales tax must be moved within 10 days after it was tabled under the Sales Tax Act. It is most shocking that the Deputy Finance Minister does not know this and explain it to the House when asked, but had to go out of the Chamber for a briefing and then call a special press conference to explain. Dr. Ling should know the place to make these explanations is inside Parliament and not outside Parliament. If he cannot handle his Ministerial portfolio with competence, then he is not fit to continue as Deputy Finance Minister.
Dr. Ling’s explanation at the press conference is not satisfactory. Even if it is true that the sales tax must be confirmed within 10 days after it was tabled or it lapses, the same reason does not apply for the other three motions, with regard to service tax increase and excise duties. Can Dr. Ling explain why these three motions were passed before the 1983 Budget had been approved.
The explanation with regard to the sales tax motion is also unacceptable. As the Finance Minister is presenting his Budget proposals for Parliamentary approval, any sales tax increase must come only after the budget had been approved by Parliament. Otherwise, we have the ridiculous spectacle of MCA, Gerakan, MIC, SUPP, Berjaya and UMNO MPs criticising the sales tax increase in the budget when they had only a few days earlier voted for the sales tax increase itself.
Another instance of Ministers and Deputy Ministers showing ignorance of their Ministerial responsibility is the Health Minister, Tan Sri Chong Hon Nyan, who had expressed his disgust to learn a number of government hospitals in the country are selling placenta form others to foreign cosmetic manufacturing firms. Tan Sri Chong said that it made his “flesh crawl” to hear such things.
But the next day, the government hospitals affected revealed that the selling or placenta had the approval of the Health Ministry all along. It must have made the “flesh of the people crawl” to find the Minister of Health himself publicly exhibiting his ignorance about what is happening in his own Ministry. Before they can be an effective shake-up of the government machineries, to build a clear, efficient and trustworthy government, clearly the Cabinet itself must be shaken-up first.