KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 ― With 26 nations now on the hunt for MH370, a minister's decision to exclude the federal opposition from a briefing on search operations has invited more scorn against the Malaysian government ― this time, for being divisive in the face of a national crisis.
DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang demanded that Putrajaya include Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders in the briefing, scheduled for 8.30pm tonight, reminding the federal government that all parliamentarians, whether from Barisan Nasional (BN) or the opposition bloc, play equal roles in the administration.
He lambasted BN leaders for remaining silent after he suggested the formation of a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on disasters, which he said should ready itself to conduct an internal probe on the MH370 episode once the search and rescue operation (SAR) concludes.
“I regret that up to now, there has been no response from either the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak or Hishammuddin to this proposal for a Parliamentary Select Committee,” Lim said in a statement here, referring to Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.
The experienced lawmaker reminded government leaders that even during the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster ― the world's worst disaster since Chernobyl ― the Japanese parliamentary had held an inquiry for six months.
The inquiry had concluded that the nuclear accident was “man-made” and that the “direct causes of the accident were all foreseeable”, Lim pointed out.
In the case of MH370, the magnitude of the incident, its implications and the myriad contradictions that have emerged from it should be probed deeper by a similar committee, he said.
“I would urge Hishammuddin to respect and not to compromise in any way Parliament’s special interests, rights and responsibility to conduct full and comprehensive inquiry into the MH370 crisis after the SAR operation,” Lim said.
Hishammuddin, who is leading the multi-nation SAR team on the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft, had issued a special notice yesterday calling for a “BN MPs only” briefing on the crisis.
According to the notice distributed to the media in Parliament, the closed-door briefing will be held at the upscale hotel, Aloft, at KL Sentral tonight.
“This is a very negative and divisive development as well as inimical to Parliament’s role to conduct full investigations into the MH370 tragedy after the SAR operation,” Lim said.
PR lawmakers raised uproar on the matter yesterday, and demanded that they be allowed to attend the briefing, saying it was of national interest.
“How can this happen when this is a national matter? This is regretful. The minister is supposed to answer to the House, not just to a group of special MPs.
“It doesn’t matter if it is the opposition or BN, we are mandated to represent the people and the people have the right to know,” PKR MP Fuziah Salleh told the House when debating the Royal address.