Govt shouldn't use 'technicalities' to avoid questions in Dewan Rakyat, says Dr Wee


KUALA LUMPUR: The government should not use "technicalities" in the Dewan Rakyat to avoid answering questions from the Opposition.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said such techniques were disappointing as it was using the majority voice in the House to silence the Opposition.

He said this after Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof struck out the former's question on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project from being answered in Parliament.

This was on objections raised by Khoo Phoay Tiong (PH-Kota Melaka) under Standing Order 23, saying that it had specifically named the political secretary of the Finance Minister, Tony Pua, in part of his question.

Khoo said this was against the rules of the august house.

He also said Dr Wee's questioned exceeded the maximum 40 words allotted per question.

In response, Mohd Ariff allowed the question, but agreed to strike out the section that referred to Pua.

"I don't think it is ethical if they want to restrict a question to be answered by a minister based on a technicality.

"This is not the first time they are doing this," Dr Wee said in a press conference at the parliament lobby Wednesday (July 10).

Dr Wee said that he had to name Pua as there were allegations made by the former in 2016 that the project should only cost RM29bil.

Dr Wee said in 2016, Pua's constituency was Petaling Jaya Utara and now Damansara as it has been renamed recently.

"We know that in the Standing Orders, we don't mention names but for my question, if I wrote 2016, (I would need to refer to Petaling Jaya Utara) because there wasn't Damansara (constituency) then," he said.

Dr Wee also said that in his question he asked if the ECRL's project scope was downsized, which the government denied.

"Why isn't it considered downsizing? Last time, it went all the way to the border of Thailand but now the distance has been shortened.

"Secondly, the tunnel across the Titiwangsa range is no longer in, so if this isn't downsizing, what else can you say?

"The government needs to be fair (and say) if there is a downsizing in scope that has caused the cost to be reduced," he said.

Dr Wee said in 2016, Pua claimed that the actual cost of ECRL should only be RM29bil, which was RM25bil less than the cost projected by the then Barisan Nasional government.

However, the Pakatan Harapan government said it had brought down the cost from RM65bil to RM44bil.

"So I want to ask, why didn't the government follow the suggestion by Pua. He claimed before that the (Barisan) government had embezzled (songlap) RM25bil.

"You have to compare an apple to apple, which means the scope of the project compared must be the same.

"I just want justification. If what Pua said before was right, why did the current RM44bil project's scope change?" he added.

Dr Wee also questioned on the viability of the project and cargo traffic due to the shortened distance.

He said previously the ECRL went up to the south of Thailand, easing things to be exported through the Kuantan port. However, this isn't the case anymore.


   

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