Promise

Limiting the Prime Minister's term of office and restructuring PM's Department

ANALYSIS

Sub - promises

Limit the Prime Minister (PM), Menteri Besar (MB) and Chief Ministers (CM) term of office to two terms

08 May 2019 

Eminent legal experts retired judge Gopal Sri, former Malaysian Bar president Ragunath Kesavan and retired judge KC Vohrah cast doubts on the ability of the Pakatan Harapan Government to fulfil Promise 12 to limit the term of the prime minister and Promise 15 to separate the function of the Attorney-general. They said this in an FMT report published on 8 May 2019, which details the legal constitution minutiae that would allow the administration to fulfil their pledge.

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31 Mar 2019 – Mohamed Hanipa Maidin, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department set down for an interview which was published on 31 March 2019. In this interview discusses his views on government reform. The conversation centered around key reforms in the administration like, the National Anti-Corruption Plan 2019 – 2021, the Ombudsman Malaysia, the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), the Subsection 17(A) of the MACC Act 2009 on Corporate Liability, Political Financing and many other reforms that will bring back the luster and authority to Parliament. 

C4 – In this interview, Hanipa laments on the challenges to implementing the institutional reforms requires a lot of time and negotiation with stakeholders from the political scene, civil service and the citizens in general. Hanipa’s answers and the list of initiatives that he highlighted suggest the institutional reform is happening, however, it is being outpaced by the patience of the citizens who are seeing the same old BN inspired behaviours in PH politicians. Communicating the progress of these changes are lacking, in this vacuum rumours and wild speculations fills in the gap. It is commendable that he acknowledges this gap in the administration and hopefully, it signals a more transparent delivery on institutional reform in the future. 

 30 Jan 2019: This is a report by SKRINE, one of the oldest legal firms in Malaysia, on the launch of the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP). The report details the six strategies that the civil servants and administration will implement to make Malaysia corruption-free by 2021. 

C4  – This is a comprehensive report on the NACP. From this report, the NACP is a positive initiative to limit the power of the Prime Minister and restructure the reach of the Prime Minister’s Department. This is especially apparent in Strategy 1, where it shifts oversight of institutions like the National Audit Department from the Prime Minister to parliament. The strategy also includes limiting the term of the Prime Minister, Chief Minister and Menteri Besar to two terms. 

1 July 2018: The Prime Minister’s department will be reduced in size and key agencies and bodies in Malaysia will no longer report directly to the Prime Minister and reports to the parliament instead. The restructuring exercise includes 10 agencies being disbanded like the National Professors Council, Civil Service Delivery Unit (CSDU) and the 2050 National Transformation (TN50) secretariat. This article was based on an article by the Star where they obtained two letters by Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, the Chief Secretary of the Government to the Prime Minister’s Department on 26 June and to the Public Service Department on 28 June. Further sources for this article by Malaysiakini were obtained by sources close to the government

C4  – The slimming down of the Prime Minister’s Department is long overdue. It was a bloated instrument of overreach that the previous administration practised. This initiative will save the country millions of ringgits and bring control and accountability to key agencies to the parliament.  This is in line with Promise 12 of the PH Manifesto.

Ensure the PM does not hold other ministerial posts simultaneously

18 May 2018 

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir made a U-Turn on his announcement that he will be the new Education Minister.  The post will now go to Dr Maszlee Malik, a former university lecturer, from the Bersatu party. 

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Reduce the number of Ministers in the PMD to a maximum of 3 only

Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department official directory. (click here to go the website)

The Prime Minister’s Department (PMD) now hosts 3 Ministers and 3 Deputy Ministers, which hold the portfolio on Religion, Law and National Unity and Social Wellbeing. 

C4  – The PMD now holds 3 Ministers; Mujahid Yusof who handles religious affairs (particular Islamic matters), Waytha Moorthy who handles matters related to national unity and national wellbeing and Liew Vui Keong who handles matters related to the law. Faziah Salleh and Hanipa Maidin were appointed deputy minister of religious affairs and law respectively. This is a welcome change from the previous Najib Razak administration which had  6 ministers which handles a wide range of matters. This streamlining of the PMD is a welcome move as it moves power away from the Prime Minister to various ministries and also parliament.

Reduce the allocation to the PMD to RM8 billion only

06 August 2018 

The Prime Minister’s Department has significantly reduced its budget allocation to RM4.9 billion. This was mentioned in a written response to parliament by the PM on the budgetary allocation of the PMD. These savings were done via cost rationalisation of the department and also trimming down agencies in the PMD.

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Reduce the number of agencies in PMD

17 August 2018: Ali Hamsa, Chief Secretary of the Government through a Free Malaysia Today article has articulated the reforms that were made to the civil service after 100 days Pakatan Harapan took power. This includes the termination of 6 contracted diplomats (who were political appointees), the abolishment of six government agencies, the reduction of agencies under the PMD to 48 from 98 agencies and the formation of the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-corruption (GIACC). 

C4  – The PMD under the previous administration was bloated with overlaps in the roles of ministries. These agencies allowed for the PM and the executive power over certain matters that might arise suspicion of conflict of interest. Highlighting the reform made gives great comfort to citizens that the PH government is committed to reform promised in their manifesto. 

Create stronger check and balance mechanisms

17 October 2019 

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Defense and Home Affairs have summoned representatives from Bukit Aman, the Home Ministry and the Attorney General’s Chambers on 16 October to explain the arrest of 12 people under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA). Lim Lip Eng, MP in the committee informed the press that the meeting was to ascertain the use of SOSMA which Pakatan Harapan promised to abolish when they took to power last year. Lim requested an emergency meeting of the committee on 11 October 2019 a day after the police arrested two DAP state lawmakers and five others under SOSMA due to their ties to the defunct Sri Lankan terror group LTTE. 

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21 March 2019 – In light of the recent session of Parliament, analysts, Rash Behari Bhattacharjee on 21 March 2019 wrote a review on the checks and balances that have been put in place by the new government which includes setting up six select committees and a Caucus on Reform and Governance.

C4  – This article by anticipates key reform areas that will come up in the first for 2019 Parliamentary Session on 11 March 2019. It tracks the commendable changes were made since PH got into power, especially the introduction of six new parliamentary select committees (PSC) what will act as a check and balance mechanism for the executive. The new PSCs are the Special Select Committee for Consideration of Bills, Special Select Committee on Budget, Special Select Committee on Defence and Home Affairs, Special Select Committee on Rights and Gender Equality, Special Select Committee on States and Federal Relations and Special Select Committee on Major Public Appointments.  These new PSC will keep the executive and the administration into account as the PSC will include members from both sides of the house, which give some semblance of balance and fairness in their execution of duty. The anticipated reforms in the article have excited the political class and civil society, however, will reform be possible when faced with the “realpolitik” of Malaysia.

Decentralised other bodies including Parliament

27 March 2019 

The Parliamentary Caucus on Reform and Governance headed by Anwar Ibrahim that a motion will be tabled to reintroduce the post of parliamentary draftsman in the July session of Parliament. He said this to reporters after chairing a meeting of the caucus on 27 March 2019. This role of the draftsman is to ease communication between MPs and PSCs. The draftsman will be charged with drafting the laws which have been so far been delegated to the Attorney-General Chambers. 

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30 January 2019:  Reform and Governance Caucus has proposed for it to become a parliamentary select committee for the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara. This was decided in a recent meeting of the caucus chaired by its Chairperson Anwar Ibrahim on 29 January 2019. In the same meeting, it was proposed that the caucus will vet all bills that will be tabled in the Parliament to ensure they are in line with its goals. Anwar said this in a statement sent to the press after the meeting. He also reiterated that caucus will monitor the administration at all levels of government to ensure the country’s economy remains effective and running well.

C4 – Anwar Ibrahim, the chairman of the Parliamentary Caucus for Reform and Governance made a statement that the caucus should be recognised as a select committee for both houses of parliament. This will give authority to the “Reform and Governance” caucus to monitor the administration and vet bills. The members of the caucus are government backbenchers, Mohamed Hanipa Maidin (Sepang), Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (Jeli), Datuk Johari Abdul (Sungai Petani), Datuk Seri Dr Santhara Kumar Ramanaidu (Segamat), Maria Chin Abdullah (Petaling Jaya) and Ma’mun Sulaiman (Kalabakan). The call to action by Anwar Ibrahim is a positive move by the current administration to decentralise power away from the Prime Minister. The caucus headed by Anwar and the other six new PSC formed will allow for parliamentarians to scrutinise and check the decisions of the executive, leading to better accountability within the government. 

24 October 2018 – Deputy Speaker Nga Kor Ming told reporters in Parliament today that the Commission of Parliamentary Services Bill 2019 will be tabled in early 2019. He also said there will no longer be a minister in charge of parliamentary affairs and thus freeing the house from the control of the executive (PM). This move will allow for the august house to have its own budget and facilitate better support to committees in parliament. 

C4  – The Parliamentary Service Bill is a positive move to emancipate parliamentarians from the control of the executive. In mature democracies which practices constitutional monarchies that has a parliament, like the United Kingdom, parliamentarians are free to act strong check and balance of the executive (the cabinet and the Prime Minister).  This move would hopefully provide a platform for a more robust parliament, democracy and equitable spread of power in the country.