Halt the “Political Circus”

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Malaysians generally are a forgiving lot. But can Perakeans continue to condone the idiosyncrasies of their elected representatives at their behest?

Nothing can be more disturbing than to see our august State Assembly turning into a house of ill repute. No, not in the true sense of the word but literally. That is what it implies if events unfolding, prior to and during a sitting, are anything to go by. Each sitting is being characterised by a shouting match between opposing benches which ultimately ends in a walkout by the Opposition. This has been the trend ever since Barisan Nasional wrested control from Pakatan Rakyat on February 6, 2009.

The latest sitting on Monday, August 15 was no exception. It started at 10.00 a.m. and ended at 12.30 p.m. – the shortest in the annals of the Perak State Assembly. Within a period of 150 minutes, the only issue of substance debated, which elicited some very heated exchanges of words and expletives, was the controversial RM5.8 billion Liquefied Natural Gas in Tanjung Hantu, Manjung.

The Opposition’s ire was aroused over questions as to how a project of such magnitude is being awarded to a “company with no records of business dealings and no contact numbers”. The company “with a paid-up capital of RM100 suddenly had RM5 million in its kitty when a report was lodged with the federal anti-corruption commission”.

Nothing can be achieved if those we elect to office are only interested in going after each other’s throat rather than debate on issues of common interest. Democratic principles are being subverted for reasons of incompatibility among the lawmakers. Malaysians generally are a forgiving lot. But can Perakeans continue to condone the idiosyncrasies of their elected representatives at their behest?

The supposedly two-day sitting ended abruptly when the Opposition walked out after protesting vehemently that Speaker Ganeson was biased. “Whenever it’s our turn to speak our microphones are switched off but BN assemblymen are allowed to speak without disruption,” said former Menteri Besar and Opposition Leader, Dato’ Seri Muhammad Nizar Jamaluddin.

The walkout was prompted by the non-acceptance of a motion by Ganeson to recuse himself from the Speaker’s chair. The issue which the Opposition found wanting was the suspension of Khalid Idham Lim Abdullah (Pas-Titi Serong) which, according to Ganeson, was debated and passed during the April 15 sitting.

Although many may question the sincerity of the opposite bench there is an element of complicity involved here. Barisan Nasional’s propensity for rushing through an assembly sitting and blaming their opposite number, whenever the inevitable happens, only helps to accentuate the misery.

A compromise needs to be reached if our elected representatives have the interests of the rakyat at heart. But will such a situation occur when both sides are continually at logger heads?

There are many issues that need to be discussed and debated in a civilised manner. After all, this is to be expected of a civil society that upholds democratic values and principles.

Over a hundred and fifty questions, posed by all 59 representatives, were being slated for deliberation. Unfortunately, none saw the light of day. The questions ranged from the contentious to the absurd. Most had to do with developments and funding of projects in both rural and urban areas. One which I found amusing is, why two roads in Greentown Business Centre are being turned into a one-way thoroughfare.

The questions, simple though some may be, are indicative of the rakyat’s desire for answers and actions from the authorities. But this is not to be as the assembly, due to the insensitivity of some, is more apt to make a nuisance of matters relating to the rakyat’s welfare.

President Obama miffed by his opponents’ attempt to derail his economic recovery plans, called on the Republicans in the US Congress to “halt the political circus”. I feel the political circus in the Perak State Assembly should be halted as well.

2 thoughts on “Halt the “Political Circus”

  1. My two cents worth. If the people elected always have a walkout, who is going to speak on behalf of the people. What ever that needs to be debated goes undebated and gets passed. Is this the best way to have this state ruled.

  2. Regarding the company with low paid-up capital being awarded the multi-billion LNG project. The word “awarded” is perhaps not the right word to use. I don’t have first-hand information about this particular project but this is probably a private project proposed by the company and not a project that the state government came up with. So this is a private project that is “approved” by the state government, much different from a government project “awarded” to a private company.

    Many of the project proposals are submitted using shell companies with low paid-up capital. The main reason is increasing the paid-up capital requires payment to SSM (the higher the paid-up capital, the more money has to be paid) and there is no guarantee of getting the project. Furthermore, nobody wants to end up with a company with paid-up capital of a few million doing nothing, especially when the company was formed specifically for that particular project.

    Often, projects are approved to these companies on the condition that their paid-up capital be increased to a required amount within a short specific time or the approvals will be rescinded.

    This may not be the best way but not everyone can or is willing to spend too much at the beginning when the project is yet uncertain to be approved. If everyone has to spend a large amount of money at the onset, entrepreneurs with limited financial resources will not get any opportunities at all.

    Regarding Dato’ Seri Nizar’s claim of microphones from PR being shut off. If this is true, the Speaker must be held at fault. The Speaker must provide fair and equal treatment to both sides of the Legislative, no matter what his own political affiliation may be. The Speaker will of course try to “assist” the side to which he is affiliated to but he can’t be too blatant or one-sided about it. Otherwise, he is not fit to be the Speaker. The problem is that political parties often ignore normal conventions and civil proceedings.

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