Govt prepared for ‘hot’ questions

By IZATUN SHARI

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government is prepared to answer “hot” questions from MPs during Parliament proceedings, which may be aired during the half-an-hour unedited and uncensored live telecast on RTM1 beginning April 30.

Information Minister Datuk Shabery Cheek said the Government was ready to be scrutinised by Opposition MPs in Parliament.

“We have nothing to hide. We are ready to answer. The bottom line is we are answerable. That is one of the principles of democracy. We invite hot questions,” he told reporters Tuesday after opening a public broadcasting seminar here.

“I don’t think the Government has any paranoia or fear of the Opposition. We have full confidence; that is why we are willing to allow the live telecast of the Parliament proceedings.”

He was asked whether the Government would fear the possibility of the Opposition using the opportunity to manipulate the live telecast to further their agenda.

“Parliament is filled with politicians. Certainly, I can’t say that parliamentarians will not use the opportunity to further their political agenda but we must view it positively. Politicians have their own visions, objectives, views and ideologies. They would want to highlight them. In a democratic system, the people should be allowed to listen to views rationally.”

He said the live telecast would allow the people to make their own assessment of the questions and answers.

“Parliamentarians can ask anything. There can be good questions but bad answers or bad questions but good replies or good questions and answers.”

He said ministers and deputy ministers would have to bear full responsibility to answer questions raised by the parliamentarians, as there would be no more parliamentary secretaries to do the job for them.

On the feedback from MPs, he said many welcomed the live telecast saying that it was a new era for the democratic parliamentary system and the media.

“This is the real reform mentioned by the Prime Minister. Although it happens in a small step, we hope the people can start accepting it.”

He said some people might still be asking for a live telecast for the full one-hour question time but the cost was high.

Asked whether the Government was willing to extend live telecast to debate sessions, Shabery said: “If the response from the people is good, we will consider that. It’s not a problem. If it has positive effects for the people, the Government is willing to do it.”

On the implications of airing live telecast of parliamentarians using improper language, he said: “The rakyat can assess their wakil rakyat. Now, maybe the rakyat think that wakil rakyat are among the scholars and those with certain qualifications and know how to use proper language.

“The wakil rakyat should be a reflection of the rakyat they represent. This is the best way for the rakyat to see for themselves how their wakil rakyat speak.”

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