(Kuala Lumpur, Thursday): The
past 44 years, and in particular the last two decades, have seen the
unchecked decline, denigration and
emasculation of the role and function of
Parliament, with its powers relentlessly usurped
by the Executive
and an increasingly overbearing Prime Minister.
the 1976 Richard Dimbleby Lecture, Lord Hailsham coined the phrase of
“elective dictatorship” to describe the Westminster democracy where “the government controls
Parliament, and not Parliament the government”.
But what Malaysia has is not “elective dictatorship” but “Prime
Ministerial dictatorship” where one man controls government and Parliament and
nobody controls the Prime Minister.
review and audit of the 44-year record of the Malaysian Parliament will show
that it has failed to perform its three most important functions
in an effective and meaningful fashion, i.e. to legislate, to deliberate
and to hold the government to account.
One way to measure the performance of Parliament in the past 44 years is to ask the following three questions:
there is genuine representative democracy in Malaysia, the state of human rights
in the country would not be in such a parlous state despite the existence of a
Human Rights Commission to “protect and promote human rights” – where
distributing a pamphlet is even regarded as a crime!
there is good and accountable government, there will not be such a long list of
“high-profile” police reports against VIPs where investigations have gone
nowhere despite the highlighting of the issue by the Minister in the Prime
Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim.
am very skeptical that Parliament when it meets on June 17 would be informed of
the status report of the investigations into every “high-profile” case,
including the police reports which I had lodged, whether against the MCA
President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik or about the
criminal breach of trust of the Pensions Trust Fund (KWAP) in the Time dotCom
IPO scandal, resulting in the loss of a quarter of a billion ringgit!
Malaysians have a say in the decisions that affect their lives, we will not have
the extraordinary “929 declaration” where the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr.
Mahathir Mohamad could unilaterally, arbitrarily and unconstitutionally declare
that Malaysia is an Islamic State, flying in the face of the 44-year 1957
Merdeka Constitution and “social contract” of the major communities and
reaffirmed by the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak
that Malaysia is a democratic, secular
and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an
Islamic State – without any Parliamentary sanction, national mandate or
reference to the UMNO, MCA or Gerakan general assemblies; and the questioning of
the “929 declaration” to defend the Merdeka Constitution and “social
contract” suddenly regarded as sensitive and an offence under the Sedition
may sound paradoxical that one important reason why there is no genuine
representative democracy or good and accountable government is because there is
no strong Parliament – as the Barisan Nasional had enjoyed unbroken two-thirds
parliamentary majority in
Parliament since Independence.
the strong Parliamentary dominance of the Barisan Nasional
- presently enjoying four-fifth
majority – is precisely the fatal flaw of the Malaysian system of
parliamentary democracy, as what we have is not a strong Parliament but a strong
Executive and even stronger Prime Minister rendering Parliament effete, impotent
and even useless to carry out effectively the trinity of its functions to
legislate, to deliberate and to hold the government to account.
root-and-branch reform of Parliament to revitalize and restore a strong Parliament to ensure genuine representative democracy
and a good and accountable government must rank as one of the top priorities of
the national agenda and one of the
major issues in the next general election.
This is because there is no chance or hope whatsoever for meaningful
parliamentary reforms to restore greater checks and balances to our system of
governance unless the political hegemony of the ruling coalition is broken by
bringing to an end its suffocating
parliamentary majority since Independence.
Only then is it possible to restore
Parliament as a place where the Executive is held properly to account by Members
of Parliament, where the Government policy is first announced and tested and
where the terms of trade between the Government and Parliament are shifted back
in favour of the latter.