Unkind act in calling for pay cut


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 26 Oct 2003

By DALILAH IBRAHIM

IT WAS almost deja vu when a notice on a motion to cut RM10 from the salary of the Housing and Local Government Minister was circulated in Parliament more than a week ago. 

Such a motion, although no longer considered a “surprise move” by the Opposition, is meant to embarrass ministers for failing to carry out their duties. 

Since the notice was circulated, the minister in question, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, gallantly made his daily appearance in the Dewan Rakyat – waiting for the motion by Teresa Kok (DAP-Seputeh), raised at the committee stage, to be debated. 

While it was not surprising that Opposition MPs would invoke Section 66(9) of the Standing Order, it was a breath of fresh air to see the minister himself making his own defence. 

In the past, such motions were usually replied by deputy ministers or parliamentary secretaries. 

It was also not the first time that Kok, who is DAP women's wing secretary, had tabled such a motion – bringing up, among others, the same issue over the proposed incinerator project. 

Last November, Kok proposed to cut the salary of Science, Technology and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Law Hieng Ding over the incinerator project in Kampung Bohol, Puchong. 

The Government later decided to move the project to Broga in Semenyih, which again faced the same controversial protest from DAP. 

“Is this going to be a trend by the Opposition? It was clearly a political move – a desperate one at that – I would say. Furthermore, why do they target this ministry?” a Barisan MP said after the House rejected the motion. 

In Ong's defence, Hoo Seong Chang (BN-Kluang) said the DAP was bankrupt of ideas and should consider joining Barisan Nasional instead. 

He was supported by Datuk Mohamad Aziz (BN-Sri Gading), who said Opposition MPs were only wasting time. 

“This motion should be rejected with costs,” he said, adding that it was Kok's salary that should be cut. 

Ong thanked his supporters and told Kok that he had been waiting patiently to rebut her motion so that he could reveal DAP's “political tricks.” 

“There was no proposal to cut my salary in the past, maybe it is because I am now sitting in the front row,” he said, referring to his seat in the Dewan as MCA president. 

He said DAP could no longer use the incinerator issue to get publicity and gain political mileage. 

Ong questioned Kok's motives as she had always been pleasant with him outside the Dewan when she asked him to help her voters in her constituency. 

“But I am not angry. When I learnt about the motion, I wanted to face it,” he said to thumps of support from Barisan MPs. 

Ong said he had replied countless times about the incinerator issue, emphasising that it was the best solution to overcome the lack of landfills especially in the Klang Valley. 

“We are producing 17,000 tonnes of waste per day – not per month or per year,” he said, adding that Federal Territory alone generated 2,500 tonnes, and Selangor, 3,500 tonnes. 

He said the waste problem was a very serious issue and “no longer a political issue for some seeking to be popular.” 

Although it was clear that Kok's main grouse was the incinerator issue, she also said Ong's salary should be cut for his failure to solve the House Buyers Claims Tribunal issue. 

Chairman Tun Dr Mohamed Zahir Ismail, however, told Kok not to touch on the tribunal issue as it was pending in the Court of Appeal. 

When she insisted she had not touched on the merit of the case, Ong said that if she was allowed to go on, he would have to give a reply that might be subjudice. 

“I have a lot to say on the matter. However, I cannot do so at the moment,” he said. 

When Chong Eng (DAP-Bukit Mertajam) tried to argue on Kok's behalf, Zahir ruled that his decision was final. 

Kok, however, did not have enough time to debate her other arguments that the local authorities were plagued with problems and that some officials in these agencies apparently abused their powers. 

A backbencher said the first two issues were the main things that the DAP was using to kenakan (attack) Ong. 

“Just go to their ceramah (political talks). It is the same thing over and over again,” he said. 

Winding up the debate on the Supply Bill later, Ong said the Economic Planning Unit was conducting a feasibility study on the possibility of building an incinerator in Penang. 

“Penang is one of the areas that are heavily populated that is facing waste management problems,” he said. 

Ong also said the Johor Government had asked for an incinerator to be built in the state. 

The Dewan sits again tomorrow.  

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