Press Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang on Thursday, November 24, 1994 in Petaling Jaya
Liong Sik is trying to justify his lazy and irresponsible parliamentary conduct in claiming that he is right to answer 27 questions in one go during question time
My criticism of MCA president and minister for Transport Datuk Seri Dr. ling Liong Sik for being the minister who is playing the most truant from his parliamentary duties has stung Liong Sik to the core.
This is the only explanation for his comments yesterday which were of such bad taste that it is unthinkable that they could come from a cabinet minister.
Liong Sik said that I was ‘slightly off-centre’ in suggesting that there be a limit to the number of questions a minister can answer in one go in the dewan rakyat. He alleged that he came to the conclusion that I have gone ‘slightly crazy’ in making such a suggestion and hoped ‘the stitches on his head have not affected his thinking’.
I do not propose to engage in an exchange doubting the mental stability of Liong Sik. I believe Liong Sik was in full possession of his mental capacities when he decided on 17 October to evade close parliamentary scrutiny and questioning by answering 27 question posed by MPs from the opposition and the government benchers on the Kuala Lumpur international airport fires in subang.
Liong Sik is trying to distort mu proposal that minister should not be allowed to answer more than three questions on the same subjects in one go by claiming that it was pointless to repeat an answer of the content was similar or had been asked by a Member of Parliament. He said I should co-ordinate the questions asked by DAP MPs to ensure they did not overlap or were the same.
If Liong Sik has followed carefully what I said in parliament, he would never make the preposterous allegation that I had wanted ministers to repeat the same answer to questions already replied to in the same meeting.
What I objected to was that Liong Sik answered 27 questions in one go without responding to all the issued raised and also denying members of parliament the opportunity to ask supplementary questions.
For instance, among the 27 questins which Liong Sik disposed in one go, the transport miister failed to answer specific queries posed by many MPs both opposition and Barisan Nasional, such as :-
* When Liong Sik first knew about the subang radar fire, when he first informed the prime minister about the disaster and why he did not visit the airport until 60 hours later;
* the cost on the waste of fuel incurred by aircrafts which had to circulate the airspace waiting for landing clearance as the result of the fire; (Dr. Kua Kia Soong)
* outcome of investigations into the stowaway Shamsul Ramli who died in the MAS 747-200 aircraft to Johannesburg on 15 march 1993; (Kerk Kim Hock)
*the number of times and dates that Liong Sik had answered questions and debates in parliament on KLIA; (Lim Guan Eng)
*cost incurred by Malaysian airport berhad and MAS as a result of the Subang Radar Station Fire; (Wee Choo Keong)
* why the promise of the former deputy prime minster Ghafar Baba that the result of the investigate into the airport control towel fire in October 1992 would be made public within two week was not honoured; (Lim Kit Siang)
* the specific question by the MP for Kimanis, Datuk Nurnikman Abdullah whether there are plans to change the wiring system for all major airport in the country especially Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Senai and Penang (15 November);
* whether the minister is aware than in japan, England and other countries, those responsible for disasters like the airport fire would resign and not be transferred to other department as in Malaysia; (Mohamed Xihin bin Mohd. Hassan – Larut)
Unless Liong Sik was prepared to give a proper and conscientious reply to all the 27 questions in one go – which will have taken more than one hour of question time – the Transport minister had no business to dispose of all of them in such a most unparliamentary manner.
Furthermore, if Liong Sik had checked who had posed the 27 parliamentary question on the subang airport fire, he would had found that only eight of the questions came from the DAP MPs and 18 questions from the Barisan Nasional. If Liong Sik is riht, then it is the Barisan Nasional which had failed to co-ordinate the questions of its MPs and not the DAP.
If Liong Sik absents himself from dewan rakyat during the committee stage debate on transport ministry budget, it will be further ground for a motion to deduct his salary by RM10
I feel sorry for Liong Sik that he is publicly trying to justify his lazy and irresponsible parliamentary conduct where according to the prime minister at the last parliamentary meeting, Liong Sik had only turned up in parliament for 24 days out of 272 days – which is the worst cabinet minster record of parliamentary attendance not only of the current cabinet, but in the entire parliamentary history in Malaysia since Merdeka in the last 37 years.
Liong Sik can only restore his parliamentary credibility by diligently doing his homework and religiously attending Parliament to account for his ministerial responsibilities.
Liong Sik must ensure that he would personally be in the dewan rakyat to answer to MPs during the committee stage debate of the 1995 budget on the Ministry of Transport early next month or his absence would be another ground to justify a motion to deduct his alary by RM10.