The Legislative Council Session continues

[This photographs is the old State Council meeting in 1948 - the surrounding not as plush as today's Legislative Council.

This afternoon, it is the turn of the Minister of Communications to answer questions. On Saturday afternoon, there were a few questions that the Minister has to answer mostly on Telbru and DST services. The Minister was quite comfortable answering the questions including even telling the members to set the settings of your mobile phones on manual instead of auto so that the mobile phones don't suddenly use Celcom or STM signals emanating from just outside the border.

Though one question that members can stop asking today is the ferry service to Sabah. I heard on the radio this morning that the tender to provide the service from Muara-Menumbok-Muara is already open. So if there is any company out there willing to provide this service, then you should rush out to the Marine Department and get that tender form. I forgot when the closing date for the tender is, it sounded as if it is very soon. I look forward to the ferry service and hopefully a trip to KK wouldn't require to have so many stops along the way. Though I have been told the stops are part of the fun of the journey to Sabah.

The one thing that the government has to sort out is who answers questions in the Legislative Council on corporatised government agencies. This include the BEDB, BIA, TAP and AiTi and there will be more in the future. The budget debate is that it should only be debating the budget debates of the government departments for which payment has to be approved via the spending bill or Appropriation Act which needed to be approved by the Leg Co. But corporatised agencies do not require funding from the government and operate completely on their own via their own fundings (though BEDB is still funded from the government from an investment grant). Technically speaking the members can't discuss these departments because their budgets are not up for debates. But these agencies are vital component of the economy and affect many people. These agencies also have their own boards and each is headed by a Minister or in BEDB's case, reports to a Minister.

So far, the various ministers such as MOF have been answering for TAP and BIA (but there was no question) but the chairman of TAP is the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports and the chairman of BIA is the Minister of Communications. They can answer but equally they could deflect answers simply by saying that the budget for these departments are not up for debate at the Leg Co. The obvious solution is obviously the Leg Co should meet for other debates and not just for budgets but that is not for me to say. The written questions at the beginning of the debates are good but I don't think the members have been asking that many questions and one wonders whether they do not want to ask or do not know what to ask or prefer the grandstanding of asking questions on the open during the committee session.

One practise which the British Parliament has is the supplementary question. The first question is written but it does not leave the minister off the hook, the suplementary question is verbal and at times can expose the prepared answer as being hollow or detached. Anyway, I am digressing. For those going to the Leg Co this afternoon, let me know what happened. I am taking a break today.

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