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supports establishment of parliamentary select committees for national
integrity and information technology and will study proposal for a
wide-ranging review of parliamentary reform and modernization with
Malaysia’s nearing half-a-century of parliamentary democracy
(Ipoh, Saturday): I met the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak at his office at the Defence Ministry in Kuala Lumpur yesterday to convey to him my concerns at the slow pace of progress in the past 15 months to transform the Malaysian Parliament into a “First World Parliament” through far-reaching parliamentary reforms and modernization to shake off Parliament’s erstwhile image and role as a mere rubber-stamp of the executive and become a vibrant and meaningful centerpiece of parliamentary democracy.
There had been some parliamentary changes and improvements in the past 15 months, like the establishment of two Parliamentary Select Committees – on Criminal Procedure Code/Penal Code amendments and National Service/national unity – and the recent directive by the Prime Minister to Cabinet Ministers to be present in Parliament to personally answer questions and address important issues raised by MPs, but they are just not good enough in terms of what could have been done in the past 15 months to restore Parliament to its proper position of centrality in the political system.
I raised a wide variety of issues with Najib at our meeting, including:
1. Urgent need for parliamentary debate of the Police Royal Commission Report in the current meeting - or it will be an adverse reflection of the seriousness and political will of the administration to implement the Commission’s 125 recommendations to create a world-class police service dedicated to the triple objectives of keeping crime rate low, uphold human rights and eradicate corruption.
Najib expressed concern that a parliamentary debate on the Police Royal Commission Report may become a police-bashing exercise. This concern is misplaced as the government should have greater confidence in the MPs, whether Barisan Nasional or Opposition, who can agree that the primary purpose of the parliamentary debate is how best to create a world-class police force rather than to engage in “police-bashing”.
The failure of the Barisan Backbenchers Club to join Opposition MPs to demand for a full parliamentary debate on the Police Royal Commission Report in the current meeting is the strongest proof of the limitations and the inability of Barisan Nasional MPs from playing their proper parliamentary role as the voice and conscience of the people.
2. The need to make public the list of beneficiaries of approved permits (APs) for imported cars, as former Prime Minister and Proton Adviser, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was clearly reflecting public sentiments when he called for the AP list to be made public and questioned the unhealthy and undesirable concentration of APs on only a few companies – out of 67,000 APs issued last year, only 12,600 were given to 82 companies while 20 companies received 54,400. The issue cannot be resolved privately between Mahathir and the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz as the rights and interests of the 26 million Malaysians are directly involved and they are entitled to the full facts and explanations about the improprieties in the issue of APs.
3. Parliamentary Select Committees – More than a year ago, I had proposed the establishment of some 30 specialist Parliamentary Select Committee with a Select Committee to monitor each Ministry, which will enable MPs to specialize and be more knowledgeable in the decision-making process. In our meeting yesterday, I specifically proposed the establishment of four Select Committees – on National Integrity, Information Technology, Migrant Workers and on the two Water Bills, the Water Industry Services Bill and National Water Services Commission Bill.
Najib expressed support for the establishment of Parliamentary Select Committees for National Integrity and Information Technology.
4. Najib also promised to look into the proposal for a wide-ranging review of parliamentary reform and modernization with Malaysia’s nearing half-a-century of parliamentary democracy