After de facto Law Minister Liew Vui Keong announced the decision to retract the introduction of Prime Minister’s Question Time in the Malaysian Parliament at the end of last month, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has agreed to take on questions from Members of Parliament (MPs) during said slot every Wednesday.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad addressed the first question in the Dewan Rakyat sitting this morning (10 Jul), which touched on the government’s next move in chartering the future of debt-laden national carrier Malaysia Airlines.
The Star Online reported Dr Mahathir as saying after the Pakatan Harapan presidential council meeting on Mon (8 Jul): “I will be there, whether there are questions for me or not.”
Previously, Deputy Speaker Nga Kor Ming said in May that the suggestion to slot in PM’s Question Time is derived from the UK Parliament’s practice of allocating approximately half an hour every Wednesday for the PM to answer questions from MPs.
Malaysiakini quoted him as saying: “This is one of the best practices that has been implemented by the House of Commons in the UK.
“The PM will be present to answer questions from MPs, and he will not be allowed to delegate the questions to his deputy.
“We are planning to televise the PM Question Time live so that you will not have to depend on baseless news [sources],” added Nga.
The practice will also extend to Ministers holding other portfolios, which will be seen through the introduction of Ministry Day, he said.
“For example, Monday will be set as Finance Ministry Day, which means that Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s presence in Parliament will be mandatory on that day, and he will be required to answer questions related to his Ministry,” Nga illustrated.
He added that such an arrangement will enable Ministers to fully concentrate on their workload outside of Parliament on other working days.
Another significant change underway is the suggestion to separate Parliament from the Executive arm of government, which will involve setting up a Parliamentary Service Commission this year.
Nga said that the particular change is rooted in the need to uphold the independence of the House, in tandem with the doctrine of separation of powers.
“Under the current structure, Parliament is bound by the Prime Minister’s Department, and it is absurd. The former should be free and independent from the latter,” he added.
Malaysiakini noted that Nga had previously mentioned plans to draft a Bill regarding the matter in Oct last year.