Friday, February 16, 2007

MP Allocation - BN MP back up the wrong tree

It's not how you announce it, but the sincerity and the political will to announce it.

Several BN MPs are shying away from announcing how they spend their RM2million constituency development allocation, which Opposition MPs are denied of it, citing reasons as poor internet connection and penetration in their respective constituencies etc.

I believe the argument is not about where you announce it. You of course can announce it on the internet, the best place for people to check on the details anytime and anywhere during the era of ICT, but I would agree that if they do not have a website, they can always call for a press conference and just announce the list.

After all, it is not a matter of how they want to do it, but it is a matter of whether they have the political will to do it.

RM2m allocation: TI tells MPs to bare it all
Soon Li Tsin
Feb 16, 07 5:13pm

There is no reason why parliamentarians cannot disclose the allocation for their respective constituencies on the Internet, said Transparency International (TI) Malaysia president Ramon Navaratnam.

“There is no excuse for hiding information from constituents. If you deny people information, people would wonder where the money is going to," said the head of the anti-corruption body when contacted today

“The rakyat can legitimately ask where the money has gone. Has it gone back to the rakyat or into somebody else’s pockets?”

Ramon was responding to excuses given by some MPs who refused to follow MCA vice-president Ong Tee Keat’s move to disclose information on the RM2 million allocation for his Selangor's Pandan constituency on his personal website.

Several MPs who spoke to malaysiakini cited lack of resources, poor Internet penetration and the unnecessary need to disclose such information as among the reasons for not doing so.

In such cases, Ramon said MPs can use newspapers and other means to announce as to how they were spending the money.

“I’m sure the press would be more than happy to publish (the information). They can also put up a sign on their branches or distribute leaflets, all of which are inexpensive measures,” he added.

BN MPs receive RM2 million for their respective constituencies. The ruling party controls 198 out of the 219 parliamentary seats and the total allocation amounts to RM396 million.

However, constituencies held by the opposition do not get the annual allocation.

Unfair practice

Commenting on this, Ramon said it is unfair for the funds to be only allocated to government MPs.

“It’s unfortunate that public finds are channelled through the government. Taxpayers expect their funds distributed regardless of any political leaning.

“I wish his (Ong’s) example showing such transparency, integrity and accountability is shared by all MPs and that they too would reveal how the money is spent,” he added.

The MCA vice-president’s move had ignited a heated debate and even drew flak from his own party.

On Jan 23, the MCA central committee decided that its elected representatives - for both state and parliament - should not reveal their constituency allocations on the internet.

The party leaders are concerned that such revelations could be "sensitive", especially in allocations for religious and education purposes.

Apart from Ong, MCA Subang Jaya state assemblyperson Lee Hwa Beng has also been revealing the information on his personal website for several years.

Despite the controversy, Ong maintained that he did the right thing and has not removed the details from his website.

Ramon supported Ong on this and urged other BN representatives to follow suit.

“I strongly commend him for being absolutely transparent for publishing what he’s given out. I hope the government quotes his example to be followed by others in the interest of transparency,” he said.

He also reminded MPs that it is in their interest to assure voters have confidence in them.

“If voters have doubts, they won’t give the same support to the same party come election time. So it’s in the interest of the MPs to divulge all information or suffer lack of confidence on the part of the constituents,” he said.

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