Promise

Restore the Dignity of Parliament

ANALYSIS

19 July 2019 – Seeking to improve relations with critical civil society organisations (CSOs), Parliament has agreed in principle to register an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) as part of its function, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof said today.

APPG, a concept borrowed from the UK Parliament, is an informal working group of MPs and senators to tap society at the grassroots level and come up with policies addressing issues such as food security and sustainable development for the country.

Promise 16 emphasizes the importance of ensuring that Parliament functions with independence in order to allow it to effectively check executive powers. In August 2018, the government announced the appointment of the first Parliamentary select committee and their six-member team. Historically, the legal framework for parliamentary select committees exists under the Parliament’s Standing Orders. However, important bills are rarely sent to a parliamentary committee for deeper examination and scrutiny. In practice, the Executive and the Attorney General’s Chambers of the previous government were primarily responsible for the drafting of the law, while Parliament appeared compromised by the numbers game, and the Upper House merely rubberstamped bills to become law.

This particular reform is indeed encouraging and key to ensuring Parliament’s dignity. To further strengthen the good governance agenda, we recommend that anti-corruption and financial integrity matters get fast tracked as an important issue under the new select committee. The new select committee needs to actively work to track the progress, independence and capabilities of the MACC and other financial institutions. This is essential because the work of this select committee will without a doubt enhance the role of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). While this is a bi-partisan committee, we further urge the inclusion of key stakeholders and experts into the committee.

It is noteworthy that as part of parliamentary reform, six new standing committees which consist of members of Parliament from both sides of the house were formed in December 2018 to act as mechanisms for checks and balances. The committees are tasked with engaging with ministers and developing policies for the country. The six standing committees are:

1)     Consideration of Bills Committee;

2)     Budget Committee;

3)     Rights and Gender Equality Committee;

4)     Major Public Appointments Committee;

5)     Defence and Home Affairs Committee; and

6)     Federal State Relations Committee.

The parliamentary caucus on reforms and governance headed by Anwar Ibrahim was also set up to strengthen efforts to reform Parliament. This caucus is planning to revive the Parliamentary Services Act which was repealed in 1992.

While the development in this area of reform is generally encouraging, we note with concern that the current Chairman of the PAC who quit UMNO and later joined Bersatu in March 2019 has not been replaced by an opposition member of Parliament. We echo various calls urging that the government honour its pledge that the PAC be chaired by an opposition member of Parliament.

Sub-promise

The Speaker of Dewan Rakyat and the President of Dewan Negara are credible
They must not be attached to any political parties

Form a special committee to investigate complaints from Members of Parliament (MP)

No Updates

Grant the Leader of the Opposition with status and provisions equivalent to a Federal Minister

No Updates

Provide funding based on a transparent formula to all members of the Dewan Rakyat for their constituency and service centre

Parliament sittings will take place at a minimum of 100 days per year

1st Session 2019: 11 Mac 2019 – 11 April 2019  

2nd Session 2019: 01 Julai 2019 – 18 Julai 2019

3rd Session 2019: 07 Oktober 2019 – 05 Disember 2019

Total number of days: 68 days

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Establish Dewan Rakyat Select Committee to monitor every Ministry, with the power to call Ministers and senior officials to testify

15 July 2019 – Several government agencies will be called up by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to explain themselves, following the tabling of the Auditor General’s Report 2018, which found several cases of discrepancies.

4 Dec 2018 – The new committees will add to the five existing committees in Parliament.

The existing committees are the Public Accounts Committee; the Standing Orders Committee; House Committee; Committee of Privileges; and Selection Committee.

Relevant parliamentary committee to approve appointment of key national positions (including SUHAKAM, EC, MACC  and Judicial Appointments Commission)

4 July 2019The government is devising a mechanism to shift the jurisdiction of major public service appointments from the executive to the legislative, de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong said today.

9 Jun 2019 – Leong said they would call for a meeting with Dr Mahathir to determine the committee’s functions, especially after a few major appointments – including the appointment of Latheefa as MACC chief, were made without their input.

11 June 2019The government will stick to the “old idea” of referring to the Prime Minister’s recommendation to appoint chiefs of key national bodies until Parliamentary Select Committees are able to take over the role legally, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

11 Jun 2019 – PELANTIKAN jawatan utama kerajaan akan dilakukan dengan cara lama buat ketika ini, kerana jawatankuasa pilihan khas Parlimen mengenainya memerlukan sokongan dua pertiga ahli dewan untuk berkuatkuasa sepenuhnya, kata Perdana Menteri Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

12 June 2019 According to a report by The Edge, the PM told reporters after a meeting of the Economic Action Council on Tuesday (June 11) that he would use the “the old idea” of having the Prime Minister recommend key appointments, since Parliamentary Select Committees were not legally functional yet.

11 June 2019 The prime minister will continue to decide on major public appointments, said Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Tuesday (Jun 11), despite Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) election promise that such appointments would go through a parliamentary committee.

21 March 2019 – Set up a Special Select Committee of Major Public Appointments

2 Jan 2019 – AAS raises concern that 5 JAC members are appointed by PM

Relevant parliamentary committee to monitor AG’s Chambers, MACC, Bank Negara, the Securities Commission, and the National Audit Department

Establish informal groups in Parliament (including Caucuses and All Party Parliamentary Groups) involving representatives of civil society

19 July 2019 – Seeking to improve relations with critical civil society organisations (CSOs), Parliament has agreed in principle to register an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) as part of its function, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof said today. 

APPG is an informal working group of MPs and senators to tap society at the grassroots level and come up with policies addressing issues such as food security and sustainable development for the country.

Introduce Green Papers to engage people and all stakeholders in the policy making process

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Half an hour will be allocated for the PM’s Questions in the Dewan Rakyat, weekly basis

Empower the Dewan Negara to check and balance the Dewan Rakyat

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Allocate specific time for specific agenda in Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara

Speaker Dato’ Mohd Arif introduced this at the 11 March – 11 April Parliamentary session.

Publish the full list of directorship held by MPs in state-owned enterprises (at federal or state levels, private companies or as a consultant, together with the emoluments receive)

No Updates