MALAYSIA — Malaysian civil society groups welcomed the parliamentary reform agenda, which was vowed by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Johari Abdul in order to create a first-class Parliament.
In a joint statement released today (9 Feb), the Seed Community for a Professional Parliament, a Malaysian civil society network of civil society groups, think tanks and academia advocating for a professional Parliament to create healthy policy competition between various parties, suggested the establishment of a cross-party parliamentary group (CPPG).
The statement took the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Political Financing as an example, which was formed during the previous parliament term and has succeeded in bridging the gap in the involvement of civil society groups (CSOs) and the general public in the national policy-making process.
“The CPPG on parliamentary reform must be established immediately to study and propose all forms of Parliament improvement needed for the short, medium and long term. This effort will be able to help the Parliament determine a clear direction in reforming the Parliament in the era of Malaysia MADANI.”
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections(BERSIH), Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), ENGAGE Network, and political scientist Prof Wong Chin Huat were among the Malaysia NGOs and individuals who endorsed the joint statement.
The group suggests establishing parliamentary select committee on budget and finance
The group said the recent development for the Parliament, one of the country’s most important institutions, is positive and encouraging.
“We would like to know the further plans of the Speaker on the establishment of new parliamentary select committees, their number and membership, including the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which will monitor all ministries led by the Prime Minister since the cabinet has been formed more than two months after the 15th General Election (GE15).”
The civil society group suggested to the Speaker that a select committee on budget and finance be established separately to review other financial affairs that are not included under the supervision of the PAC.
The group urged that those select committees formed on specific issues or ministries should be permanent and listed in the Rules of Meeting, so that all these committees will remain in existence at all times, with only their membership being changed after each GE.
“This continuity will maintain the effectiveness and monitoring of the select committees itself, ” the group said.
Speaker proposed to re-enact Parliamentary Services Act
Yesterday, Datuk Johari Abdul revealed his key agenda to create a first-class Parliament in the country, among them the re-enactment of the Parliamentary Services Act and the upgrading of the Parliamentary Select Committee to empower Parliament.
Datuk Johari Abdul was newly elected on 19 December last year. He told Bernama that he wants to strengthen the role of the Special Select Committee towards strengthening the role of ministries.
He said the committee, which is made up of government and opposition MPs, can make recommendations and reports for the check-and-balance process and deal with issues that crop up at the ministries concerned.
Civil society calls for healthy, professional and productive inter-party competition
The group’s statement said the noble idea of “MADANI”, which was introduced by Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister last month, should be raised as a narrative umbrella to support multi-party democracy and deepen the reform of Parliament and other important institutions.
“Aggressive inter-party conflict should be replaced by healthy, professional and productive inter-party competition.”
The joint statement was an initiative of the Seed Community for a Professional Parliament.
The organisation and individuals who endorsed the statement were: