Parliament Eleventh Meeting
I suppose today's newspapers had other things to report rather than focus on the King's opening of the Third Session of the 11th Parliament Meeting on 13th March 2006. As it involves my work, I was shifting through the English dailies and well, I was quite surprised because I believe that the opening speech by the country's King should take equal prominence to whatever is on the front page today.
I am especially interested in the King's mention on Sarawak and Sabah and what the Ninth Malaysia Plan Outlook is for Sarawak from 2006 to 2010. Maybe Sarawakians think lightly if the Malaysia Plans after cruising through the other Malaysia Plans. Take it from me, it affects your daily lives and future businesses. Sometimes most of us would rather leave it to the politicians and the Ministers or Assistant Ministers to craft out development policies and ideas. Maybe there should be a change in this as the common rakyat too can have their say through proper channels of course. It may seem tedious having to read what our Yang Berhormats have to say but it affects the people, the State and Country.
Kings Speech Summary Obtained from Bernama.Com the Malaysian National News Agency
Increase Potential To Enhance Development, M'sians Told
March 13, 2006 11:38 AM KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 (Bernama)
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail Monday urged the people to increase their potential to further strengthen the progress achieved so far. He said noble values such as being clean from malpractices, honest, trustworthy, fair, ethical and people-friendly were vital qualities for the people to enhance self-esteem and character development to realise the vision of building a nation of excellence, glory and distinction.
He was confident the Ninth Malaysia Plan, to be tabled in Parliament by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on March 31, would accelerate the nation's economy towards achieving objectives of Vision 2020.
"I am sure the plan will provide the policies and strategies to strengthen our economic fundamentals to sustain growth and improve quality of life.
"The five-year development plan will also give priority to measures to boost the country's competitiveness," he said when opening the first meeting of the third session of the 11th Parliament Monday.
The session till May 4 will see at least two significant documents being tabled. They are the Ninth Malaysia Plan and the Bills related to the country's water industry.
The plan -- which will chart the course of the country's development up to 2010 -- is Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's first.
The Bills -- the Water Services Industry Bill and the National Water Services Commission Bill -- will provide for a total revamp of the country's water supply structure and also for the sector to be privatised.
Among the other Bills expected to be tabled are the proposed amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code and the Penal Code.
Besides the above issues, opposition MPs are expected to raise the heat in the House by bringing up several issues such as inflation and the petrol price hike, independent commission to check on police abuse and press freedom after the fallout from the offensive Danish cartoon issue.
Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin said improving competitiveness, productivity and efficiency were crucial elements to attain high and sustained economic growth. "As such, the private sector should return to assume the role of engine of growth by increasing investments in the latest technologies, human resources and research besides exploring new frontiers to add value," he said.
On the nation's economic achievements, the King was grateful to God as many economic sectors were continuing to grow though the global economic outlook was moderate and world oil prices were soaring.
He said eventhough the inflation rate had increased slightly, it was still under control. The country still enjoyed full employment and trade surplus continue to increase since 1997, contributing to the increase in the country's foreign reserves.
"With the poverty rate at 5.7 per cent in 2004, it is clear the objective to rid the nation of hardcore poverty is expected to be realised under the Ninth Malaysia Plan," he said. His Majesty also touched on various sectors including agriculture, tourism, education, transportation, welfare and public services in his speech.
On agriculture, he said attention should be given to modernise the sector using high technology and production of value-added agriculture produce. Efforts should also be made to strengthen the role and contributions of the commodity sector to the nation's economy, he said.
Syed Sirajuddin also expressed happiness with the progress in the tourism industry, describing as "encouraging" the yearly revenue from tourist receipts amounting to about RM31 billion from 16 million tourist arrivals. He, however, called for concerted efforts to improve the services and tourist products to woo more people to the country, he said.
The King said the government would continue to strengthen national schools, bridge the education gap between rural and urban areas and improve the prestige of the teaching profession to uplift the education standard in the country to be of world-class.
"The system of learning based on information and communication technology will continue to be given priority while teachers' training will be upgraded to produce more teachers of quality," he said. On tertiary education, His Majesty said the curriculum in universities must be relevant to the economic requirements and stressed on achieving a global perspective among academics and students by having exchange programmes with the world's top institutions of higher learning.
On transportation, he said, the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal, to be operational this month, would be able to attract more arrivals in line with efforts to make the KL International Airport a regional aviation hub.
He also urged the society to play its role in coming to the aid of the less fortunate like orphans, single mothers, disabled people, senior citizens and victims of abuse. Social ills including deviant teachings must be tackled wisely, he said.
On the National Service Training Programme, the King said improvements must be made periodically with emphasis on unity, culture appreciation, common values and better spiritual development.
He also urged civil servants, especially members of the defence forces to improve efficiency, be steadfast in ethics and give undivided loyalty to the King and country. He also wanted weaknesses in the government's delivery system to be addressed to meet the people's expectations.
For people in the interior areas, His Majesty said the government would continue with various infrastructure projects, especially in Sabah and Sarawak and Orang Asli settlements.
Human capital programmes for life-long learning, poverty eradication and ICT development would be intensified to improve the living standard of the people in rural areas, he added.
Let's go through the speech one by one.
My comments would be that the speech is all encompassing and pertinent to Sarawak especially in the debelopment of Noble Values.
The achieving of a Developed State is quite important as we do not want to end up like a Developed Selangor. What is important is that there must be a balanced and sustained growth without sacrificing the quality of life we enjoy now come 2020.
The State's competetiveness should also be enhanced, complimenting the country's efforts. The Bills tabled will have an effect on the State and we have to keep our ears open. Everything regarding the economy and economic sectors would be raised so it makes some good issues for digestion and kopitiam discussions.
The fuel hike and the amount that the Federal Government will give to Sarawak for improving our public transport should be looked into, the effect of Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia splitting loads for domestic routes will affect us - Will Air Asia short change us and charge Sarawakians what MAS is charging us now? That we will have to see.
The part on education poses a challenge to our local and foreign educational institutions in Sarawak. Can we meet the world class standards?
With the rise in social problems, what programs are being done to overcome them. News of snatch thefts, robbery and serious crimes going on the rise in Sarawak (if so, what is the rakyats' response?) Play an innocent bystander? Would programmes like the National Services or the revival of Rakan Muda help to increase awareness among our youths?
And the government machinery - we should look at both the Federal and State Government - is there any lacking of commitment to what the taxpayers expect us to do. The delivery system is it is found to be at fault, we should not point fingers and condemn immediately but try to work together to solve the problems.
So how will our Yang Berhormats from Sarawak present our case effectively? Or will they be absent? Or will they be just sitting down in Parliament listening and nodding away? That my friend is for all of us to find out :) After all you voted for them or will one day vote for them.
As for our YBs, we just have to wait and see...