Reminder to Abdullah for an appointment on a common agenda for the 11th Parliament to play pivotal leadership role to end the Malaysian malaise of “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” by making it a First World Reform Parliament
by Lim Kit Siang
(Ipoh, Friday): I have today sent a reminder to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, on my request at the end of March asking for an appointment to discuss a common agenda for the 11th Parliament to play a pivotal leadership role to end the Malaysian malaise of “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” by making it a First World Reform Parliament to spearhead the nation’s full entry into first-world status in the era of globalization, liberalization and information and communications technologies.
At the launching of the National Integrity Plan at the Putrajaya Convention Centre on April 23, Abdullah told me that he had received my letter and that the appointment was being fixed, but I have yet to hear from the Prime Minister’s Office in the past two weeks – or more than five weeks since I first sent my letter.
The 11th Parliament convenes in a week’s time on Monday, 17th May for the election of the Parliament Speaker, the swearing-in of all the newly-elected MPs and the election of two Deputy Speakers. The next day, 18th May, the Yang di Pertuan Agong will officially declare open the 11th Parliament and deliver his Royal Address, followed by a eight-day debate.
The parliamentary opposition is prepared to fully co-operate with Abdullah to deliver his pledge of a clean, incorruptible, efficient, trustworthy and people-oriented government which wants to hear the truth, but will pull no punches to criticize the flaws and failings of the administration to live up to its general election pledge of “Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang”.
Parliament should be the first institution in the country to set the example for the eradication of the Malaysian malaise of “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality”, which Abdullah had brilliantly pinpointed as a major impediment for the country’s achievement of Vision 2020 to become a fully developed nation by becoming a First World Parliament.
For the past four decades, other Commonwealth and world Parliaments have gone through several generations of parliamentary reforms to enable their MPs to play more meaningful and effective roles as legislators and elected representatives, but for the Malaysian Parliament, time had stood still for the half-century as such ferment and effervescence of parliamentary reform had completely passed Malaysia by.
There is a lot of “catching-up” for the Malaysian Parliament to do to become a First World Parliament, and it is hoped that the government and the opposition could reach a consensus on a common parliamentary agenda for Parliament to play a pivotal leadership role to transform Malaysia into a “First World” nation in all aspects, and not just in infrastructure.
Such a common parliamentary agenda for a “First World Parliament” should include:
The Malaysian Parliament is among the worst in the world’s Parliaments in terms of parliamentary support to provide Members of Parliament with comprehensive and reliable analysis, research and information services to ensure informed and high-quality parliamentary debates.
The United States Congressional Research Service (CRS) in the US Congress Library has some 740 researchers and analysts working exclusively and directly for Members of US Congress, their Committees and staff on a timely, confidential, objective and non-partisan basis. The Australian Parliamentary Research Service employs more than 80 researchers with specialization in law, defence, international defence, economics, trade, social policy, science and environment and statistics.
Other Asian Parliaments, such as Japan, Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia also provide MPs research and information support to their members. The Indonesian Parliament, for instance, has some 40 researchers to help MPs to ensure quality debate and participation in parliamentary deliberations. In Malaysia, however, the score is “zero” - with not a single researcher in Parliament to help MPs in the past 46 years. The time has come for the Malaysian Parliament not to continue to trail behind other Parliaments in parliamentary reform and modernization.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman & Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor