Home > English (General) > House rejects question on FBC media

House rejects question on FBC media

See Chee How.

by Joseph Tawie

Sarawak opposition PKR wants to know why Speaker Asfia Awang Nassar dismissed questions on UK-based public relations company FBC Media.

KUCHING: A question as to whether the Sarawak government was still paying a British-based public relations company, FBC Media, to conduct a global media campaign against international critiques was shot down at the state legislative assembly sitting yesterday.

Speaker Asfia Awang Nassar used his newfound powers availed by approved amendment to Standing Order to reject the question by Batu Lintang (PKR) assemblyman See Chee How.

Earlier during the debate, See said his question was based on certain documents in his possession.

“In my question, I am not asking whether the statements in the press or of any individual or body are accurate.

“Neither am I seeking information set forth in accessible documents or ordinary works of reference.

“If I may add, I was also not asking a question that is scandalous or vexatious.

“In fact, the Prime Minister’s Department was asked similar questions and had answered in the Parliament, giving financial details of hiring the British-based public relation company FBC Media to conduct a global media campaign against its international critiques,” said See during the debate on the state 2012 budget.

Documented evidence

He cited a UK Guardian news report as the reason for raising the question. The report said that British Broadcasting Corporation had admitted to using FBC commissioned programme on Malaysia and Sarawak.

“My question was pertinent. I have in my possession a copy each of the following documents:

  • The letter dated 20.01.2011 from Alan Friedman, the Chairman and founder FBC Media;
  • Budget breakdown for the 12 months between February 2011 to January 2012, which is costing us Euro 3.45 million or RM15 million excluding travel and lodging which is cap at 8% of the budget or RM1.2 million; and
  • The 12-months Strategic Communications and International Brand Positioning Campaign for Sarawak & SCORE.

“Therefore, I am of the humble opinion that I have the justifications to ask, and I sincerely think that all Sarawakians have the right to know, whether the state government had and is still paying for any other “strategic communications” firms and what are the terms and the contract sums involved in hiring these PR companies,” he said.

Longhouse chief terminated

On the termination of longhouse chiefs in many parts of Sarawak, See described the matter as serious.

He said this was the second spate of mass termination of community leaders within the last three years – in July 2008, and in July this year. These were done after the parliamentary and state elections respectively.

“I raise this for the attention of this Assembly because the termination is now said to comply with a circular memorandum dated Oct 2, 1980 issued by the then Acting State Secretary.

“With my resources, I cannot locate any legislature that clothes the state secretary with such wide power, so wide that it flagrantly claimed that the appointment of the Ketua Kaum service is made at the pleasure of the government, that it is an administrative prerogative, exercised without the need to give reasons.

“The Acting State Secretary, in 1980, whoever he or she is, should not have issued such a circular memorandum and giving it the force of law, for to do so would be usurping the power of this House,” he said pointing out that “our predecessors were made aware of this and had passed the Community Chiefs and Headmen Ordinance, 2004 on Dec 6, 2004”.

According to See, the legislature was not enforceble yet “because Chief Minister Taib Mahmud had not appointed a date for enforcement”.

Source: FMT

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