KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 -- Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad denied that the RM7 million allocation provided by the government to the Tanjung Piai constituency was for the purpose of gaining the support of the constituents.
Speaking to the media at the Parliament lobby today, Mahathir stressed that the government was just doing its job and that the allocation unintentionally coincided with the date of the Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election.
Asked why the allocation was not announced after the by-election, Dr Mahathir said it was normal to have pre-existing development plans for certain areas.
"If we are already in the middle of campaigning, it is not proper to offer assistance, but usually there are existing (development) plans, and the government will not take advantage of these plans to garner support," he said.
Earlier, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman announced RM4 million for the upgrading of sports and recreational facilities in Tanjung Piai, while Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub also announced an allocation of RM3 million for upgrading works on three fishery jetties in Tanjung Piai.
On another matter, Dr Mahathir said the Prime Minister's media and communications advisor, Datuk A. Kadir Jasin was free to criticise the government.
"Can. He can bash the government, we will let him. Our people in the parliament (the MPs), if the government is not doing something right, they can criticise (the government) too,” he said.
In a note on his Facebook page, A. Kadir said: "17 months have passed. The counselling period is over. Now, (it is time to) bash."
Commenting on the high number of government MPs being absent during the Dewan Rakyat session today, Dr Mahathir said the cabinet had issued a warning against the MPs involved.
He said some of the cabinet ministers were absent because they were overseas since there were a number of international meetings at this time.
"For the others, they might be caught up with something, sometimes they are not in the hall, but in this (parliament) building, so they can be alerted by the sound of the bell," he said.
Asked if it was a matter of disciplinary problem among the MPs, Dr Mahathir said: "This happens everywhere. I went to the United States Congress once and I found that only one person was speaking, with only two other people in the hall, but they did not make noise about quorum, the issue of quorum is sometimes raised for political reasons."