Meradong’s Ting Tze Fui referred to Committee of Privileges
Saturday, 22 May 2010 00:17
KUCHING: The people’s representatives at the State Legislative Assembly enjoy privileges and immunities that the august house provides but they must be responsible for their words.
“We welcome constructive criticism or genuine issues concerning their respective constituencies to be brought up for discussion in the Dewan.
“As state assemblymen, they have the right to speak, but rights must come with responsibility and whatever claims are made must be properly substantiated,” said Second Finance Minister and Minister of Environment and Public Health Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh.
He told reporters this after the morning session in which he moved the motion to refer Meradong assemblywoman, Ting Tze Fui, to the Committee of Privileges for failing to substantiate her allegation that “insinuated breach of trust, dishonesty and financial mismanagement of the highest order”, therefore committing a breach of privileges and violating Standing Order 32(6).
During a debate on the state budget on November 12, 2009, Ting alleged that “millions and millions of ringgit were unaccounted for, precisely squandered”.
“Despite ample opportunity given to her to either withdraw or provide proof of her allegation, she failed to do so. Therefore, I reserve the right to move the motion referring her to the Committee of Privileges and let the committee investigate into the charge and present the report to the Dewan for further action deemed fit.
“These are very serious allegations and I categorically deny these allegations in the strongest possible terms.
“Such allegations will spoil the image of Sarawak and will erode public confidence, particularly investors’ confidence in the state. Who would dare to come in and invest?” said Wong who is also Bawang Assan assemblyman.
This is a disturbing and infuriating development. Dato Seri Wong's explanation, in summary means the following:-
1) YB Ting criticised the BN Sarawak administration of improper financial management in a state budget debate - isn't that what an opposition Wakil Rakyat's job suppose to be?
2) In a debate, you are suppose to defend yourself with facts and arguments, and not
2.1 threaten the opposition to withdraw their argument
2.2. do it almost 7 months down the road after a by-election defeat in Sibu
2.3. re-write arguments you can't counter in a debate as "allegation" in controlled media
Does Dato Seri Wong care to deny the following from the Auditor General's report for 2008 (the latest available in the website) ?
# a 27% budget overrun of RM923 million in state coffers alone
# 100% overrun in hospitality expenses - how many Sarawakians have issues with sufficient and adequate food on the table? Note other above 1/3 cost overruns, any branch manager in private sector will have a lot to answer but for Dato Seri Wong, his administration is immuned from such basic commonsense scrutiny of public funds.
# For 2 years running, more than 50 companies in which state statutory bodies (Badan Berkanun Negeri) invested suffered financial losses compared to 30 or less which is financially viable.
So is there a basis for YB Ting to raise the point in a debate?
What would concern an investor more - a functioning state assembly loaded with intelligent debates and ideas or failing state investments and mushrooming kangaroo courts suppressing scrutiny and accountability?
I suppose the Privilege Committee would recommend a suspension or even suspension of pay, something YB Gorbind Singh is challenging. By extension, Dato Seri Wong seems like leading a task force to suppress the voices of Sarawakians coming through YB Ting by denying their representation in the state assembly for a period of time.
When I read through YB Wong Ho Leng's blog, more unfair practices emerge
1) YB Ting was only given 10 days to prepare her defense; no later date was allowed because the 6 BN chaps "have their own programmes" - surely set it 1 month down the road or just cancel a golf appointment of two should do the trick?
2) she was to foot all her own expenses for her defense including bringing in 8 witnesses; when this jolly charade out of the blue is not what she or rakyat biasa of Sarawak wanted. If the 6 YBs have their "own programme" what about the 8 rakyat Malaysia who these wakil rakyats are suppose to think, speak and act for?
This looks to me like a clear sign of an attempt to bully the youngest female opposition member. The timing of and the arrangement for the PC hearing sounds suspiciously a reaction to the Sibu by election 3,000 majority drubbing (I believe in spirits but not ghost).
After a 2 hour hearing in a PC comprising exclusively of BN ADUNs....
Ting, who called a press conference after the two-hour hearing, claimed that "it's just a hearing to protect the chief minister and his cronies."
Second Finance Minister Wong Soon Koh, the complainant, had tabled the motion for her to be referred to the committee. It was supported by all the Barisan Nasional representatives
- Enough said, even the PAC in Parliament comprise both BN and PR Wakil Rakyat
To assess YB Ting's case for her defense, why not hear from the person herself in a DUN sitting on this matter? She certainly come across as a good debater loaded with facts.
And I pity the 6 chaps on the high bench. I imagine they think it will be a walk over before a lass fretting nervously over her fate and trembling uncontrollably from fright, onthe verge of tears.
I heard from believable source that an expected 30 minutes one side affair turned into a real scrap for 2 hours. It is hard for the 6 chaps to defend against such a fact-laden and eloquent lady and only by sheer brute force in numbers they struggle to passed the already decided verdict (whether still wet in pants I don't know) - if that is not another waste of tax payers' money I don't know what is.
She might have gone down fighting as expected but the 6 gentlemen have left with significant mental scares and missed appointments.
Just spare a thought for YB Ting. At a time when young ladies her age are having the time of their lives, she is there fighting for the rakyat (some appreciative and some very much not so) and enduring gamesmanship, suppressing anger and frustration, and now victimization.
Do you not wonder, what makes people like her and the rest of the sincere YBs do what they are doing?
Are we, ordinary Malaysians who just grumble and complain, able to do a fraction of what they are doing day in day out, fatigued mentally and physically to the bones?
Do we have the presence of mind to ask ourselves, should we assist them and how can we assist them?
Malaysia could be at the threshold of a significant point in the nation's history. Perhaps this is a time when we should not ask what the country can do for us, but what can we do for our country.
The following are the points she raised extracted from the link above....certainly sounds more creditable and intelligent than whatever certain hate-inciting, party hopping Wakil Rakyats in the Parliament.
1. Sarawak State Government investment in the First Silicon Sdn Bhd has caused the government to suffer RM2.4 billion losses.
She said on March 22, 2006, the company merged with X-Fab Semiconductor Foundris AG to form X-Fab Silicon Foundries N.V where the state government absorb all its liabilities to the tune of billions of ringgit.
Ting claimed the state government pumped in millions of the taxpayers’ "blood and sweat" money into the company. But its losses still stood at more than RM4 million on June 30, 2009.
2. Sarawak International Medical Centre was constructed by the state government costing more than RM350 million with 168 beds which is equivalent to RM2 million per bed.
Pointing out that the Shah Alam hospital project with 300 beds tendered at RM482 million was still able to pay out a commission of RM77 million which means the 300 beds can be built at around RM400 million.
Ting said the state government approved the project launched in 1998 which was to be completed in three years. To-date the SIMC is still not in operation and stands idle like a white elephant.
3. Titanium Management Sdn Bhd was awarded to built 384 bridges in Sarawak but only 322 bridges were constructed. The amount was supposed to be RM550 million but the state government paid RM947 millions. The cost, she said, was overblown by 72%. The disclosure of this was obtained from the Auditor General’s report in 2006.
A company search of Titanium Management revealed was that one Haji Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib of Wisma Mahmud owns 1,430,000 shares out of 2,400,000 total issued shares, she said.
She added that the Chief Minister’s son is Titanium's biggest shareholder (60%) that she claimed is in clear conflict of interest in getting the awards for building and repairing of all the bridges in the state.
4. After suffering the worst electoral losses in BN history, the then Prime Minister announced a grant of RM1 billion to Sarawak. Ting said up to date, no ordinary Sarawakian has any idea or clue to the whereabouts of the money or how it was spent.
The CM, who is also the finance minister, has failed to tell the House or the people of Sarawak where the money was spend, she added.
On Nov 29, 2009, Ting said The Star, Sin Chew Daily, United Daily and See Hua reported that billions had been siphoned and 60% of government allocation leaked. This report appeared in the front page of The Star.
She said Wong, the complainant, has misled the House and the people of Sarawak by misconstruing without any substantive proof that the MACC Deputy Director had on December 28, 2009 revised the billions to a mere RM6 million.