KUALA LUMPUR: Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, 77, who lost the Umno presidency and premiership in 1987 when the party was declared unlawful, said in an unprecedented speech in Parliament on Tuesday that he has genuine worries on the status of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
He’s equally worried about the Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP). “The Minister of Finance is duty bound to explain to Parliament on these two institutions,” said Razaleigh, a former Finance Minister. “It’s worrying that the Government is extending funds from these two institutions to certain bodies.”
“This is a matter of good governance in managing the finances of the nation.”
The Prime Minister, he warned, should not be the Finance Minister as well and thereby find himself caught in conflict of interest situations. “The fact that Parliament has put up with this situation for so long does not reflect well on the august body.”
The national debt situation at 54.5 per cent officially, corporate debts, and the level of household debts at 87.4 per cent, stressed Razaleigh, was worrying and aggravated by financial instruments and letters of comfort/support. “We need to think deeply on whether the people should be burdened in this manner. Parliament should have oversight on the government getting into debts and its conduct.”
It was on this basis that he had previously called for the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) to be put on hold. “The economic situation is critical and does not favour the imposition of GST,” said Razaleigh. “Also, there’s no reason to keep secret the real reason for the GST. The GST revenue should be for the benefit of the people and not be used to pay debts, service interest payments and pay bond holders.”
He was urging fellows MPs to live up to their swearing in oaths and play their role as parliamentarians. “Parliamentary sovereignty and supremacy must be maintained at all times,” said Razaleigh in debating the Agong’s address.
He recalled that he had written a letter on October 30 last year on the same matter to all MPs. “Since then the economic situation in the country has dramatically taken a turn for the worse. How are we going to save the economy, the people and the country in the face of global challenges?”
Revisiting the “conflict of interest” theme in his speech, the Kelantan prince urged that the matter of all MPs declaring their assets and liabilities should be given serious consideration. “Such a declaration should cover previous MPs as well.”
Razaleigh noted that the nation was now going through a period which had never occurred before in its history. “We are now truly in an economic and political crisis which raises questions on parliamentary democracy, the rule of law and the state of our national institutions.”
The crisis, he continued, goes to the very roots of our foundation as a nation-state. “Only the MPs can help overcome this crisis situation facing us by genuinely playing their role as lawmakers.”
He urged his fellow MPs to examine their conscience and do what is right. “We need to act as one body in maintaining the sovereignty of the people and fulfill our responsibilities to those who voted for us.”
~ Free Malaysia Today