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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Full telecast will cost govt RM100,000 a day

6 May 2008

FULL telecasts of Parliament sittings will cost the government RM100,000 a day, Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabeery Cheek said yesterday.

He said this in a written reply to questions by Liew Chin Tong (DAP-Bukit Bendera) and Dr Mohd Hatta Md Ramli (Pas-Kuala Krai).

Shabeery said the move to telecast the proceedings of the Dewan Rakyat starting from April 30 without any vetting was proof of the openness and transparency of the government in line with the country's democratic practice.

"The current 30-minute live telecast during the question and answer session was also broadcast by Radio Klasik and is streamed live through the ministry's web portal," Ahmad Shabeery said.

He added that his ministry was prepared to extend the live telecast to cover the debates provided there was positive feedback from the people. Ahmad Shabeery said he was pleased with the way the Members of Parliament had conducted themselves yesterday during Question Time compared to the much maligned session last Wednesday.

The Information Ministry last week threatened to stop the telecast when only three questions were dealt with in the one and half hours allotted for the question and answer session, which was overshadowed by shouting and name calling among the MPs. Shabeery said it was too early for the government to decide to extend the live telecast based on a single day's sitting that went smoothly.

"For the time being, the trial run is still on going. "There is still another two or three weeks for the sitting to go on. "We will decide after that," he said.

He said the criteria for continuing the live telecasts was that it must be for the betterment of the country and the people. "We do not mind the elected representatives being rowdy when it comes to debating or discussing issues which are relevant. "Not like last time (last Wednesday) where, they were only discussing standing orders and trivial matters."

Meanwhile, Liew in a separate statement said the decision to broadcast parliamentary proceedings should be left to MPs to decide through the parliamentary select committee. "Ahmad Shabeery should bear in mind that MPs are not schoolboys and should not be treated in a patronising manner. "It is also presumptuous of the minister to denigrate his parliamentary colleagues in such a manner."

Liew suggested that the live telecast be extended to the full one and half hours of the question and answer session. He said the ministry should allocate a dedicated radio frequency and Internet portal to carry the entire proceedings.


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