Parliament must perform role as nation’s grand inquest
Copy URLPROHAM notes with regret that our parliament has been in abeyance for the last six months except for a few hours on May 18. It has played no role whatsoever in restoring political stability to the nation after the fall of the Pakatan Harapan government in February. Our premier legislative institution has been a bystander in the devastating health and economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Such a bystander’s role is not what our constitution envisaged. Fifty-seven of the 183 articles of the constitution deal with the role and function of our representative assembly. In political theory, our elected and representative legislature is the central pillar of our democratic polity and is supposed to perform a myriad of functions, among them: the making of laws; scrutiny of executive policy; control of national finance; control of emergency powers; protection of Malay reserves and exercise of parliamentary privileges. The Dewan Rakyat gives legitimacy to the government; represents electoral constituencies; and approves electoral boundaries. Individual MPs help to redress the grievances of their constituents. The Dewan Negara represents the 13 states and federal territories.
Regrettably, except for the constituency function, parliament fails to perform the other functions satisfactorily. Reform of the law and practice of parliament is absolutely necessary to secure parliament’s independence and enhance its institutional efficacy.
Proham notes with satisfaction that many significant reforms were initiated after GE14 under the leadership of Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusuf. Unfortunately, the future of these reforms now stands in doubt with attempted changes to the leadership of the House.
It is our hope that no matter who forms the government and leads the Houses of Parliament, the institutional reform of parliament will be continued with diligence and persistence. To this end, Proham proposes a national dialogue on the reform of parliament to strengthen our premier legislative institution. It urges the government to join hands with citizens and civil society groups to restore the constitutional scheme of a parliamentary democracy in which the government is answerable, accountable and responsible to the representatives of the people. – July 5, 2020.
* Society for the Promotion of Human Rights, or Proham is an independent and impartial human rights organisation which objectives are guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.Read more: TheMalaysianInsight »
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