DO not use “technicalities” as an excuse in the Dewan Rakyat to avoid answering questions from the Opposition, said MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (pic).
He said such a move was rather disappointing as it was using the majority voice in the House to silence the Opposition.
Dr Wee said this after Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof disallowed his question on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project from being answered yesterday.
This was following objections raised by Khoo Phoay Tiong (PH-Kota Melaka) under Standing Order 23, saying Dr Wee’s question specifically named Tony Pua, the political secretary of the Finance Minister, which was against the august House rules.
Khoo also argued that Dr Wee’s question had exceeded the maximum 40 words allocated per question.
Mohd Ariff, however, allowed the question to proceed, but struck out the section, which referred to Pua.
Dr Wee told reporters at Parliament lobby later that “I don’t think it is ethical if they want to restrict a question from being answered by a minister based on technicality”.
“This is not the first time they are doing this,” he said.
Dr Wee said he had to name Pua as he had in 2016 alleged that the project should only cost RM29bil.
Dr Wee said in 2016, Pua’s constituency was Petaling Jaya Utara which has now been renamed Damansara.
“We know that in the Standing Orders, we don’t mention names but for my question 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 had asked if the ECRL’s project scope was downsized, to 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 done 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 reduce,” he said.
Dr Wee said in 2016, Pua claimed that the actual cost of ECRL should only be RM29bil, which was RM25bil lesser than the cost projected by the then Barisan Nasional government.
However, the Pakatan Harapan government said it brought down the cost from RM65bil to RM44bil.
“So I want to ask, why didn’t the government follow the suggestion of Pua? He claimed before that the (Barisan) government had embezzled 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 said.
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 that is not the case now.