Current Affairs

Will BN MPs be on board for parliamentary reform?

By Teo Nie Ching, Assistant National Publicity Secretary and Kulai MP

I welcome de facto Law Minister Nancy Shukri’s advocacy for setting up Parliamentary Select Committees (PSC) to make legislative work more efficient and healthy in the Parliament.

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Teo: Will BN MPs agree with Nancy Shukry?

According to media reports, the Minister proposed to establish or re-introduce the mechanisms of Parliament Select Committees for law-making in the future to avoid inefficient and downright unhealthy legislative process which involved dragging bills’ discussion well past midnight.

During the debate of Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) on 6 April 2015, opposition lawmakers from different parties, including Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj (Sungai Siput – PSM), Zairil Khir Johari (Bukit Bendera – DAP), Sim Tze Tzin (Bayan Baru – PKR) and Ngeh Koo Ham (Beruas – DAP), had requested the Minister of Home Affairs to refer the bill to a PSC for deliberation. But none of the BN MPs rose to express their support to the sensible motion.

Even more disheartening was when that motion to refer POTA to PSC was finally put to a vote at 9pm on the same day, it was defeated by 60 vs 79 with all BN MPs present in the house voted against the motion.

On April 9 2015, while leading the debate on the controversial and draconian Sedition Act (Amendment) Bill 2015 in Dewan Rakyat, DAP Secretary-General cum Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng appealed to all MPs not to rush the process and refer the bill to a Select Committee for further and thorough discussion but this too fell on deaf ears.

If Nancy is sincere and serious, why didn’t she raise the matter with the Speaker or discuss with the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliamentary Affairs) Shahidan Kassim and convince her BN colleagues to put their support on setting up a PSC for POTA and Sedition Act?

With a bi-partisan Select Committee in place, the bill would be subjected to more detailed scrutiny and deliberation, experts could be called in to provide their opinions.

In contrary, what had happened was that MPs were given merely six days to digest the voluminous and all-important POTA as it was tabled for first reading on March 30 before the second and third reading on April 6. Such hasty and downright irresponsible law making has become a norm under Barisan Nasional.

For example, on April 6, the same day POTA was bulldozed, the government also tabled a 105-clauses 95-page Civil Aviation Commission Bill for first reading. It was then debated and passed on April 8, again in the middle of the night at12.24am (which was in fact the morning of April 9 but technically recorded as April 8). Such an important bill concerning Malaysian aviation industry and safety in the aftermath of MH370 and MH17 was given only ONE day for the MPs to understand its contents.  Even worse, there were translation errors between the English and Bahasa version of the bill!

I urge Nancy Shukri to take upon the important task to explain to and convince her fellow BN colleagues on the vital importance of PSCs and indeed deliberative democracy or else come the next Parliament sitting, bills will continue to be shoved down our throats.  The Parliament Clock would be frozen again and everyone will bear the consequences of BN’s poor governance and trample on democracy.

– The Rocket

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