Despite his first appearance during question time, Liong Sik is still the Cabinet Minister with the worst parliamentary record and performance

by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday’, October 18, 1994:

Despite his first appearance during question time, Liong Sik is still the Cabinet Minister with the worst parliamentary record and performance

MCA leaders and publicists are wont to ask as to what the DAP could do as an opposition party. One answer was given in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, where the MCA President and the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri. Dr. Ling Liong Sik, was forced by DAP criticisms that is the worst Cabinet Minister who has played ‘the most truant from his Parliamentary duties to finally make his first appearance during Parliamentary question time in his history as Transport Minister.

In the past few months, the DAP had been telling the people that Liong Sik had attended only 24 days of Parliamentary sittings since the last general elections, which means he was hardly six days in Parliament for one year.

And out of these six days a year, Liong Sik attended Parliament because of formal occasions, like the official opening of Parliament by the Yang di Pertuan Agong, the annual budget speech, Constitution Amendment Bill debates, the Prime Minister’s .motions such as on the Sixth Malaysia Plan, the Second Perspective Plan and the Sixth Malaysia Plan Mid-Term Review, etc.

However, Liong Sik had never answered a single question in Parliament during question time about his Ministry until yesterday – and he would not have done so if he had not been ‘shamed’ by DAP’s expose of his atrocious parliamentary record and performance.

Despite his first appearance during question time in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, Liong Sik is still unchallenged as the Cabinet Minister with the worst parliamentary record and performance – and this was fully illustrated by his parliamentary performance yesterday.

Liong Sik came fully prepared to make political attacks on the DAP although this was an abuse of parliamentary process as it was completely irrelevant to the question in Parliament about Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Subang being the most fire and accident-prone in the world. However, the DAP was used to such irrelevant and even baseless attacks from the Barisan Nasional, and we took them in the stride.

Advice to Liong Sik to take tuition lessons from Samy Vellu as how to answer parliamentary ques¬tions as a responsible Cabinet Minister

However, what was unforgivable was that Liong Sik completely failed to answer the supplementary questions which I directed at him, as to why he failed to visit the Subang radar station of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport until 60 hours after the fire oil August 13; whether this was part of a plot to mislead the nation and deceive the Prime Minister about the seriousness of the fire which knocked out the entire radar system; and whether Liong Sik was aware that his Ministry had ‘undone’ all the efforts by the Prime Minister and other Cabinet Minister to lure investors and tourists to Malaysia because of the bad reputation the fire and accident-prone Kuala Lumpur International Airport had given to Malaysia!

Liong Sik had abused the question time in making irrelevant attacks on the DAP – as the question on the fire and accident-prone Subang airport has nothing to do with the DAP. But even more serious, he has shown his utter incompetence and irre¬sponsibility as Transport Minister when he completely failed to answer supplementary questions about the Kuala Lumpur Interna¬tional Airport.

I advise Liong Sik to take tuition lessons from the MIC President and the Minister for Energy, Posts and Telecomm.11n~i¬cations, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, on how to answer questions in Parliament as a responsible Cabinet Minister.

I have had great differences with Samy Vellu and we have had many ‘encounters’ in Parliament, including the one where I was arbitrarily and undemocratically suspended from Parliament for seven months, in 1992 over Samy Vellu’s role in the MAIKA Telekom shares hijacking scandal.

Samy Vellu had also tried to use the question time to make political capital and political points, but to give Samy Vellu his credit, on issues with direct bearing on his Ministry, he would attempt to give, an answer however embarrassing the question and supplementary questions. I am in fact quite im¬pressed by Samy Vellu’s thoroughness and seriousness in answering questions pertaining to his Ministry, and I would regard him as one of the Cabinet Ministers with one of the best parliamentary records and performance.

Samy Vellu was in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, sitting beside Liong Sik. I do not know whether he was there to give Liong Sik ‘moral courage’ for his first answer during question time as Transport Minister, or to judge as to how bad was Liong Sik’s parliamentary performance.

I am sure after watching Liong Sik’s performance, Samy Vellu must have told himself that he would have handled the supplementary questions more responsibly – that after making whatever political points or attacks he wanted to make, he would have addressed the supplementary questions and answered why the Transport Minister stayed away from visiting the Subang radar station until 60 hours after the fire and the attempted ‘cover-up’ of the Subang radar station fire to mislead both the nation and the Prime Minister.

If Liong Sik had taken tuition lessons from Samy Vellu, the MCA President would not have kept addressing MPs yesterday as ‘Tuan-tuan dan Puan-puan’ as if he was in some MCA gathering.

I am sure Samy Vellu would have also advised Liong Sik to control MCA MPs w1to behaved in the Dewan Rakyat as if the MCA President was facing a great and impossible test in answering questions in Parliament.

If -the UMNO, MIC and Gerakan Presidents could answer questions during question time in Parliament as a matter-of-course, without a sense of crisis, why should Liong Sik regard answering questions in Parliament as if he was undergoing a great test?

Liong Sik should do more homework for Parliament so that he could give satisfactory and acceptable answers in Parlia¬ment to show that he is ‘master’ of his Ministry, rather than a ‘passenger’ in his Ministry, so that he could begin to wipe out his reputation as the Cabinet Minister with the worst parliamentary record and performance.