Sunday October 21, 2012
Not too many ayes for AES
At The Dewan Rakyat Last Week
By MARTIN CARVALHO
MPs from both sides got into a robust debate on the Automated Enforcement System with many from the Opposition bench wanting its installation to be deferred or reviewed.
ALMOST all eyes were on the Automated Enforcement System (AES) but it was not all “ayes” for the cameras that are meant to catch drivers who break the speed limit or jump traffic lights.
MPs from both sides got into a robust debate on the matter. Many of those from the Opposition bench wanted its installation to be deferred or reviewed.
(The AES started on Sept 23 with 14 cameras installed in Perak, Selangor, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur. In the next phase, cameras will be set up in 817 “blackspots” nationwide.)
Among others, some of the MPs cautioned against giving the concession to two companies at a cost of RM717mil.
However, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said there were no plans to postpone the project.
The AES, he said, had been successfully introduced in other countries with studies showing that it had reduced the number of road accidents by 60%.
On another subject, the Dewan Rakyat was also told that 154 projects would be implemented by the Drainage and Irrigation Department to reduce the number of flash floods nationwide.
The issue became contentious at one point when Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers claimed that the Government was always at the planning stage in dealing with the problem.
However, Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup explained that “climate change” and unusual heavy rainfall were among the factors for the numerous incidents of flash floods in mostly urban areas.
The controversy on the non-custodial sentences imposed on those convicted in two recent statutory rape cases also drew the attention of the Yang Berhormats.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Nazri Aziz said the Attorney-General was given the green light to expedite amendments to statutory rape laws.
Besides taking into account the public outcry over the recent court decisions, he noted that immediate steps had to be taken to protect girls from sexual crimes or exploitation.
Records since 2007 revealed that 5,796 statutory rape cases were recorded with 1,613 convictions.
Measures being taken include a review of current laws and the possibility of establishing a sentencing council to streamline sentencing among the courts.
As for the Auditor-General’s Report which was released last Monday, the House can surely expect the MPs to scrutinise it with a fine-tooth comb.
Public Accounts Committee chairman Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said the PAC would go through the comments on an estimated 30 agencies and decide on which to “haul up” for questioning in the coming weeks.
On a more positive note, it was heartening to see YBs from both sides of the political divide standing in solidarity to press for long overdue justice for the 24 men who were killed in the Batang Kali massacre in 1948 by British soldiers.
Several survivors of the victims and their lawyer came to Parliament House to seek support for a signature campaign to be sent to British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Besides seeking an apology from the British government, the relatives want official records expunged after a High Court hearing there revealed evidence of unjust killing by soldiers.
Nazri said MPs would be officially requested to support the campaign. Nazri also said he would seek Wisma Putra’s assistance on the matter.
On the whole, it was by no means an easy task for Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia and his deputies to keep lawmakers on track in the winding-up Budget speeches.
Pandikar kept reminding them throughout the proceedings to stick to the issues raised during the Budget 2013 and not to stray off the subject.
The Dewan sits again tomorrow.