Media statement by Tony Pua, DAP National Publicity Secretary and Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara on Monday 28 October 2013 in Kuala Lumpur
We fully support the decision of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to conduct live telecasts of committee hearings as announced by PAC Chairman, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohammed on Thursday last week.
This progressive decision will certainly enable Malaysia to join the ranks of first world democracies such as the United Kingdom, United States of America, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and many others in promoting openness and transparency in Parliament. To quote the Prime Minister, Dato' Seri Najib Razak, "surely if the rest of the world have implemented the policy, then they cannot be all wrong about such a policy".
We also strongly agree with Datuk Nur Jazlan who has expressed commitment towards making the PAC lose its "toothless tiger" reputation, by instilling a culture of "the fear to be audited" in the Government departments. There can be no better way to strengthen the role of the PAC than to allow testimonies of Ministers, subject matter experts and top civil servants to be telecast "live" to the public.
The proposal and the consensus achieved on the issue in the PAC could not have been more timely, with the special request by the former Minister of Youth and Sports, who is the current Minister of Information and Communications, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek to testify "live" over the alleged discrepancies over the RM1.6 million payment for K-Pop artists to perform at the National Youth Day 2012.
It was decided that the PAC will hear Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery's testimony on the 14 November 2013. However, it is feared that the Parliamentary Standing Orders which prohibits "live" hearings under Rule 85 cannot be amended in time for the session.
Given the bipartisan agreement achieved in the PAC, Datuk Nur Jazlan has announced that he will present the PAC's request to the Speaker of the House. At the same time, to expedite the process and to accede to the Minister's request to be heard "live" on television, we'd also like to call on the Parliament's Standing Orders Committee to hold an emergency meeting in the coming week on this issue. The Standing Orders Committee which is chaired by the House Speaker should table a proposal to amend the Standing Orders and a corresponding motion to the House for its immediate approval.
We look forward to a speedy response from the Speaker and the Standing Orders Committee, as well as a bipartisan effort from both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat to allow the Malaysian Parliament to take a very important baby step towards "becoming the best democracy in the world" as envisioned by Dato' Seri Najib Razak.