Monday, July 10, 2006

Selangor held short assembly meeting

It was widely reported, commented and criticised by the Chinese press on the one and half hour Selangor State Assembly meeting last week.
However, the English and Malay press did not seem it fit to even report the incident. It only caught the attention of Malaysiakini a few days after, as follows:-

Selangor assembly sets new ‘sitting’ record
Bede Hong Jul 8, 06 3:45pm

Two days and one-and-a-half hours - that’s how long the Selangor state legislative
assembly sat in the seven months of this year.

After spending only a total of two days in session in the past seven months, not many could imagine that the assembly’s poor attendance record could get any worse.
However, the state managed to exceed itself last Monday morning when the second state assembly meeting was adjourned just one-and-a-half hours after it began, taking almost all the 54 attending assembly representatives by surprise.
The state, which currently holds the dubious record of having the shortest state assembly meetings nationwide, received wide criticism after Selangor Menteri Besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo called the meeting to a close after a brief question session.
The meeting began at 10am and lasted an hour, whereby only four of the 169 questions posed were answered.
After a half-hour break, Khir abruptly proposed the motion for adjournment, which was seconded by state exco Tang See Hang. Backbenchers were informed that remaining questions would be replied by letter.

Shameful incident
Ng Suee Lim, the sole DAP assemblyperson present, called a press conference immediately in protest.
The incident was publicised in several Chinese dailies on July 4.
“It is shameful incident which shows that the ruling state government does not give the democratic processes its proper due. How can anything get done?” said Ng when contacted yesterday.
“We already have restricted time in the past to discuss and scrutinise policies by the state government. Now, it’s beyond ridiculous,” he said.
Asked why the meeting concluded so early, Tang had been quoted by the Chinese dailies as saying that it showed the “Selangor government is efficient”.
The meeting is the latest to mar Selangor’s state legislative record. The assembly meets three times a year - March-April, June-July and in November for the budget meeting.
It last gathered on March 5, where the meeting was rounded up within two days, excluding a day for the official opening ceremony. The Selangor assembly is officially allocated five days for each meeting.
In comparison, the Penang and Perak governments allocates 12 to 14 days.
Asked if backbenchers knew beforehand that the meeting would end abruptly, one BN backbencher, who declined to be named, replied that not all were aware.
The backbencher said he learnt that the MB had cut short the meeting to go on “work-related trip to China”. When contacted, Dr Kow Cheong Wei (MCA-Kinrara) confirmed this, adding that he was a member of the MB's delegation for the China trip from July 5-8.
On what the trip was for specifically, Tan did not wish to comment, adding that“I will only speak after I return.”

Malaysiakini was unable to reach Khir for comments.

Time allocationAccording to suspended assemblyperson Teng Chang Kim (DAP-Sg Pinang), the problems are not only limited to the allocated days for the meeting.
"The opposition leader here is only given half an hour to speak on the budget. In Penang, he has more than three hours to debate the budget debate. Here we are limited to half hour, with 10 to 15 minutes for ordinary members, regardless of which party they are from,” said Teng, who has been suspended pending an apology for ‘insubordination in the august House’ since April last year.
Last Monday’s incident is likely to raise criticism on the governance of the state, and not just by the opposition.
In fact, a BN backbencher said that the representatives from the ruling coalition were embarrassed at the situation, adding that some were upset.
“We have to show our constituents that we are doing our job. We hope this does not happen again. We need at least two days,” he said.
He added that a repeat would jeopardise the standing and reputation of all Selangor state representatives.

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