KUCHING: Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong has branded Local Government Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian an ‘ostrich minister’ for evading questions from opposition members seeking clarification on issues regarding his ministry.
Yong along with three other elected representatives –Wong King Wei (Padungan), See Chee How (Batu Lintang) and Chong Chieng Jen (Kota Sentosa) – had sought clarification from Dr Sim during his winding-up speech for the Ministry of Local Government at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) yesterday but to no avail.
“The reason I interjected his winding-up speech was because he avoided when I sought clarification on an issue I raised regarding the poor maintenance of Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) as in his speech, he did not say anything at all about the maintenance.
“In other words, the problem will still persist and it is our right as elected representatives to know the detailed answer because we do not want an answer that is very general,” she told reporters during a press conference at the Media Room of the DUN Complex yesterday.
Yong stressed that Dr Sim as the minister in charge should be brave enough to take questions from members of the august house.
“Due to his repeated evasion in answering our questions, I will term him as an ‘ostrich minister’.
“Nevertheless, we will give him a chance and I hope he can improve himself. If things remain the same in the next DUN sitting, I think he is not fit (to hold the post).”
Also present at the press conference was See, who said Dr Sim had not only failed his duty towards other members in the august house but also the people.
“For example in my case, he said there’s more than RM3 billion set aside for mitigation of flood under the 11th Malaysia Plan and under the first Rolling Plan alone there’s RM357 million.
“He also identified the short, medium and long term planning and measures for this, so I asked how was he going to resolve the issue and what is the time frame to implement all these projects.
“It’s very easy for him to tell us when he is going to do it. You (Dr Sim) have the money now and you already know how much the projects will cost. So all he has to do is tell us when. But he just evaded and dodged the question and didn’t even know how to answer us,” he remarked.
Meanwhile, Wong also found it very disappointing when Dr Sim refused to take questions from the opposition bench but beat around the bush.
“What was even more disappointing was that he actually lied to us. He kept saying, ‘Let me finish…’ but when he did, he just sat down. Once he sat down, the DUN Speaker (Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar) moved on to another ministry. He should not have done that and it is very irresponsible and unethical of him,” he exclaimed.
Meanwhile, Chong pointed out that in parliamentary convention and practice, ministers should be open to interjection and further clarification.
“Even in federal Parliament, all the ministers who gave reply were very open for clarification.
“They will give way to other members to seek clarification and it is through this clarification and further questioning on the reply that we can get better understanding of the issue and also can come up and formulate better strategy or policy to address the problem.
“A minister who is not willing to give way for clarification is a minister who is irresponsible and incompetent in his performance. Dr Sim’s behaviour indicates that he has no confidence in his reply and no confidence about the performance of his ministry,” he stressed, adding that Dr sim was also ill-prepared for his maiden winding-up speech.
He also compared Dr Sim’s delivery of his winding-up speech to that of Welfare, Women and Community Wellbeing Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah, saying both had two “totally different approaches and show of confidence.”
“(Datuk) Dr Sim totally rejected any questioning or clarification whereas Datuk Fatimah was open to clarification although we may not agree with some of her answers, policies and stands. But at least she opened up for clarification and made clear the government’s stand and policy.”