Friday, October 29, 2010

Not only MPs that are being discriminated against but the constituents more so.

The people exercise their constituitional right and elect their Members of Parliament(MPs) and State Assemblypersons (ADUNs) but alas, in Malaysia, these MPs/ADUNs are apparently not given  their annual financial allocations, if they are coming from political parties, not being the ruling party. These annual financial allocations are given to MPs/ADUNs not for their own pockets but for use for the development and welfare of their constituencies and constituents. Relatively, compared to Federal/State and even Local Council financial allocations, this is a small amount - and is meant to be used for 'emergencies', small development activities and welfare activities. and/or maybe for small supports for local activities organized by groups of persons in the constituency. Small pay-outs for assistance in funeral expenses, donations to flood victims, small repairs of homes of the poor, etc. are just some of the examples for what this money is expected to be used for by the said MP/ADUN. [Of course, there seem to be no clear provisions as to the amount and/or the amount that has been given to the individual MP/ADUN, and I wonder whether there is even any publicly displayed accounts of monies received/spend]

Apparently, to prevent 'discrimination' the BN government has also provided for similar allocations for constituencies that chose an Opposition MP/ADUN but the money is provided to the political parties of the ruling coalition who allegedly controls it and disburses for the good of the people in the constituency. [But, alas this is what we hear and again the lack of transparency and accountability is a problem]

Whose money is it really? The peoples' money...or government money, which is also the peoples' money; OR is it the money belonging to the political parties. If it is money belonging to the  political party, then naturally the party is wholly entitled to give the said monies only to their own MPs/ADUNs...but, I believe, this is the peoples' money (wang rakyat) and as such should be properly given to the duly elected MP/ADUN for them to spend for the cosntituency as they deem fit according to the guidelines for spending. Alternatively, the duly elected MP/ADUN should have control over how this money is spent - and ignoring this would be a slap on the face of true democracy. What use to have elections, but when the people chose their MP/ADUN, they are discriminated against by the Federal/State government if they are not MPs/ADUNs from the coalition that forms the government. It is not just discrimination against the MPs/ADUNs but a discrimination against the people in the said constituency. Our Federal Contitution guarantees equality, and, in my opinion, this practice is certainly not a constitutionally permissible discrimination.

I have always advocated for some Opposition MP/ADUN to take this matter to court but alas none have until now...  Better late than never.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) is to initiate a class action suit at the Kuala Lumpur High Court tomorrow at 10am against the federal government.

This is for allegedly not distributing the annual RM1 million allocations entitled to to each of the 74 MPs in the opposition camp, for the past three years.

psm gst forum 210110 d jeyakumarPSM Sungai Siput MP Dr D Jeyakumar (left) told Malaysiakini this morning that he has not received any of the allocations since 2008 when he defeated MIC president S Samy Vellu in the general election.

In his class action suit tomorrow, the PSM leader wants the High Court to rule that the BN federal government must be accountable and transparent in its allocations of the MP annual funds as public funds are involved.

He is also invoking in his civil suit, Article 8(1) of the federal constitution, which states that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection. Hence funds should not be allocated only to BN MPs.

He said the aim of the allocations is for the MP to give public service to the parliamentary constituents.

At present there are a total of 222 parliamentary seats in the August House of which BN holds 140, whereas Pakatan Rakyat members hold 74. The remaining eight are held by independents who have defected from the opposition camp.

Left high and dry

The politician-cum-cardiologist claimed that while the BN MPs get their annual allocations, the Pakatan MPs are left high and dry.

He said that the BN is using this denial of public funds as a tool to tarnish the image of opposition MPs, so that they cannot serve as effectively as the BN MPs.

Jeyakumar said that the majority of voters are not aware that such funds have been purposely withheld.

The Sungai Siput MP claimed that this has been going on since 1975 and wants the court to force the BN government to give the funds legally due to the opposition MPS.

He said that he has been running from pillar to post for the past three years, trying to get answers from Prime Minister's Department and as well as the Perak State Development Department (PSDD) which handles such MP allocations, but only ran into brick walls.

According to Jeyakumar, whenever he presses for the details of the allocations of such funds for his Sungai Siput parliamentary constituency, he is only given vague replies.

He has no idea where the money has gone and suspects something is amiss.

At present PSDD does not give such funds to opposition-held MP areas but instead it goes to BN politicians in the constituencies for distribution. _Malaysiakini, 28/10/2010, PSM to file class action suit against federal gov't
But then, it is not just Federal government that allocates money to MPs, but State governments also do the same for the ADUNs. According to the Malaysiakini report, the Federal government provides this money which is allocated by the State Development Department, but I do not believe that this allocations come through State departments in States governed today by the Opposition, i.e. Selangor, Penang, Kedah and Kelantan.

Is it only going to be the PSM Sungai Siput MP Dr D Jeyakumar who is going to take this matter to court - or will the other 73 Opposition MPs join in? Given the unhealthy trend in our Malaysian courts, even if this may be a matter of public interest, the one who takes this suit may not only end up getting a judgment not in his favour but may also be ordered to pay a large sum in cost. In the past, and normally when the matter is one of public interest...or to seek a declaration of right, etc courts do not make orders as to cost, and even if the loser has to pay cost it is a nominal RM500 or RM1,000 - but things seem to have changed under the new Chief Justice. [See earlier posts:- Malaysian courts continue to deter people from claiming rights/justice through the courts]

But then, is the Pakatan Rakyat any different from the BN? Are the Pakatan Rakyat State governments behaving differently from the BN by providing allocations to all elected ADUNs irrespective of which party they come from? There is no justification for behaving the same as the BN, by saying that since the BN is doing this so will we. There is no justification to say that since the BN is paying ADUNs directly - thus the State government will not allocate funds to BN ADUNs...but only to the Pakatan ADUNs in the State. Hopefully, Pakatan Rakyat is practicing democracy as it should be and is all ADUNs in their state with the same amount of funds...

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