Promise

Restore the Dignity of Parliament

ANALYSIS

The last Parliamentary sitting of 2019 ended on 5 Dec 2019. Here’s the summary of progress on PH’s Institutional and Political Reform – Promise 16
Promise 16 Parliamentary Select Committee, Restore the Dignity of Parliament

Sub-promise

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Agong touches on graft plan, Covid-19 in speech and 9 news from yesterday

19 May 2020

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah urged the government to continue implementing the previous government’s National Anti-Corruption Plan and find ways to help companies and businesses affected by Covid-19 in his royal address yesterday.

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PM and Parliament Speaker to be served cause papers – Lawyer

18 May 2020

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof will be served this week with the cause papers on the legal challenge against today’s single-day Dewan Rakyat sitting, said Keshvinjeet Singh Sidhu by Friday this week. law firm Messrs Gunaseelan & Associates filed the originating summons on behalf of two plaintiffs, lawyer R Kengadharan and social activist D Arumugam which named Muhyiddin and Ariff as first and second defendants respectively. It will come before High Court judge Nordin Hassan on June 1 via e-Review (a form of online teleconferencing). The decision to limit the single-day Parliament sitting today to only hear the Agong’s address and exclude any debate session has attracted criticisms including lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla reportedly saying that the validity of the sitting can be challenged in court.

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Don’t drag us into another round of political uncertainty – Agong

18 May 2020

Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, urged MPs not to drag Malaysia into another round of political uncertainty in his royal address. MPs need to set aside their animosity. The king thanked MPs and the people for their maturity in allowing the process to happen and urged Muhyiddin’s government to be responsible, honest and not neglect the people’s welfare.

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Muhyiddin dilantik dengan telus dan seadilnya – Agong

18 May 2020

Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah bertitah, baginda sudah menggalas amanah dengan telus dan seadil-adilnya dalam urusan pelantikan Muhyiddin Yassin sebagai perdana menteri kelapan. “Sesungguhnya Beta telah menggalas amanah dengan telus dan seadil-adilnya selaras dengan konsep Raja Berperlembagaan dan Demokrasi Berparlimen yang menjadi tunjang amalan negara kita,” titah Seri Paduka.

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Ex-law minister says MCO may have no legal basis

17 May 2020

Former law minister Liew Vui Keong has questioned the validity of the movement control order since Covid-19 is not listed as a scheduled infectious disease. The Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act showed that it was “very unclear” whether the government had defined Covid-19 as an infectious disease in the schedule. If Covid-19 is not part of the schedule, there’s no reason for not meeting in the Parliament. There are no laws to define the requirement of social distancing. In comparison to Singapore, which had already passed a law to define what social distancing means. Without the law, the police have no rights to arrest people for not complying with the social distancing order. 

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Covid-19 limits Parliament sitting tomorrow

17 May 2020

A total of 220 out of 222 Members of Parliament (MP) are confirmed Covid-19 negative thus enabling them to attend the Dewan Rakyat sitting tomorrow. The remainders are in quarantine. 950 people comprising MPs, Senators, Parliament staff and media personnel who were planned to be in Parliament during the one-day conference, the third term of the 14th Parliamentary session underwent a Covid-19 screening test in stages from May 13 to ensure that those present are free of the outbreak.

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One-day parliamentary sitting illegal, say lawyers

17 May 2020

Constitutional lawyer Lim Wei Jiet said Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin lacks reasonable justification to limit it to a single day. It could be reasoned that it was done to comply with the requirements of Article 55 (1) which concerns the summoning of Parliament by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and stipulates a six-month interval at the most between one sitting and the date for the first meeting of the next session. It seems to prevent the government from facing a confidence vote too. The one day sitting could not be justified by the Covid-19 outbreak because Parliament can make arrangements to accommodate social distancing or convene via teleconferencing.

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MPs rubbish Khairy’s claim for Standing Order amendment to hold virtual Parliament sitting 

16 May 2020

PKR’s Bayan Baru Member of Parliament Sim Tze Tzin said there is no need for amendments to be made to the Dewan Rakyat Standing order for an online session of Parliament as a response to the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s statement today that amendments must be made to the Standing Order for an online parliamentary sitting. Sim said a virtual sitting can be done with the minimum quorum of 26 MPs, while the others can join the sitting via online platforms to observe proceedings of the lower house of Parliament. Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh voiced a similar view, saying that Standing Orders 90, 99 and 100 of the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders provide powers to the Speaker to make the necessary rulings without the need for the Standing Orders Committee to meet and amend the Standing Order. Former science minister Yeo Bee Yin told Khairy to step up and offer technological solutions so that Parliament can conduct a virtual sitting.

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Khairy: Online Parliament sitting would require Standing Orders amendment

16 May 2020

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin says an online Parliament sitting, can only be done if amendments are made to the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat. Khairy also blamed the committee for not being called to discuss amendments to the Standing Orders to allow for virtual parliamentary sittings.

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Only King’s speech on the agenda at Dewan Rakyat’s May 18 sitting

14 May 2020 

The parliament sitting on May 18 will only hear the Royal Address without any other business which means several items that had been scheduled will not be presented to the House. Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff said he received a letter from the prime minister (PM) that the Parliament sitting will only be convened to hear the speech by the King due to caution as the country has not recovered from the coronavirus which will only include the Royal Order by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. There wouldn’t be any meeting. He added that the government has the power to amend the schedule under Parliamentary Standing Order 11(2) and 15(2).

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Other media can still report on May 18 Parliament sitting — Saifuddin

14 May 2020

Only official media are permitted to attend the one-day Parliament as announced by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Legal Affairs) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan. “It does not mean that reporting (on the one-day sitting) is limited,” said Saifuddin.

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This is not a Parliament sitting – Dr M on single agenda on May 18

13 May 2020

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has questioned the legality of the one-day Parliament sitting on May 18, now that it will only have Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s opening address. Earlier today, a statement by the Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof stated that a letter from the Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was received. It said that due to the continuing Covid-19 outbreak in the country, the Dewan Rakyat will only convene for the Agong’s opening speech at 10 am and that the sitting would end immediately after that. It practically ignores Mahathir’s no-confidence motion against Muhyiddin, which had been accepted by the speaker. Lawyer Rafique Rashid Ali agreed with Mahathir’s assessment that Muhyiddin is deemed to not have the majority support by not convening Parliament. Rafique said, “by averting sitting to face the test, the prime minister is deemed not to have majority support.” 

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Speaker: Only government media for May 18 Parliament sitting

8 May 2020

The speaker Mohamad Ariff Mohd Yusof confirmed that only government-owned media organisations will be allowed into the Parliament building to cover the May 18 Dewan Rakyat sitting. Earlier today, de facto Parliament and law minister Takiyuddin Hassan said that media access to the sitting would be restricted to RTM and Bernama under Ariff’s instructions.

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Hold full Parliament sitting as MCO is being relaxed, urges PH

30 April 2020

Putrajaya is urged to hold a full meeting of Parliament when it convenes on May 18 since several economic sectors have already been allowed to fully operate during the movement control order (MCO) period. Dewan Rakyat secretary Riduan Rahmat that the sitting was being held to discuss government bills and matters, while oral and written question sessions or motions would not be allowed. The Dewan Rakyat was scheduled to sit for 15 days from May 18 after being postponed from March 9, following the change in government.

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Unwise for PH to call for extended parliament sitting, says Takiyuddin

25 April 2020

De facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan said the call by the Pakatan Harapan presidential council to extend the May 18 parliament sitting was “premature, narrow and failed to grasp the priorities of the government and the state” in curbing the spread of Covid-19.

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One-day Parliament sitting great for health but not for politics, says Dr Mahathir

20 April 2020

The one-day parliamentary sitting on May 18 has presented Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) elected MPs with a dilemma as to its sitting positions. Bersatu chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the party was currently divided into two factions – one is with the government, the other is against the government. There are many different parties in Pakatan, it is up to them who will lead them as opposition (leader). Dr Mahathir claimed that the legitimacy of the Perikatan Nasional (Perikatan) government has yet to be mandated by Parliament and the one-day sitting on May 18 is a good decision health-wise but not politically for the opposition. Perikatan must wait until it is “certified” by the Parliament before it takes back the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) money returned by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

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One-day Parliament sitting will disrupt checks and balances – DAP MP

19 April 2020

DAP vice-chairperson M Kulasegaran said that legislatures are an essential line of defence against executive branch power abuse. Without the opportunity to convene and deliberate on critical issues including distribution of the RM250 billion economic stimulus package, Kulasegaran said MPs will not be empowered to update their constituents. The government must convene an urgent virtual Dewan Rakyat sitting as an alternative to the one-day sitting, similar to a practice adopted by countries to enable all MPs to express their concerns and convey conclusive measures to their constituencies. Aside from virtual sitting, lawmakers in other countries are also convening parliamentary sessions by abiding by social distancing rules. According to a notice issued to MPs via email by Dewan Rakyat secretary Riduan Rahmat, the sitting would convene to discuss government Bills and business only.  Riduan wrote, “there will be no oral question sessions, written questions, motions, and special chambers.”

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Start of Dewan Rakyat session delayed, not enough MPs present

20 November 2019

The Dewan Rakyat which starts at 10 a.m. did not get enough quorum to start as there were only 24 MPs. After three minutes, there were a total of 28 MPs in the House. On the 17th of October, the evening session was halted for a while since there was not enough quorum. In Kelana Jaya MP Wong Chen’s Facebook post, it was noted that there were only one minister and deputy minister present at 10.10 a.m. After two minutes, “deputy ministers and MPs who were having coffee at the lounge rushed in. The government needs to buck up,” he said.

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Baling MP booted out of Dewan

23 October 2019 – Embattled Baling MP, Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahman was asked to leave the Dewan Rakyat after accusing house speaker, Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof of bias. He is believed to have made that allegation during a spat during yesterday’s sitting of Parliament. The speaker demanded him to retract his statement and the speaker proceeded to boot him out from the Dewan Rakyat. The speaker proceeded to suspend him for two days.  

‘Parliament allowance to be docked over absence’

23 October 2019 – Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, the Dewan Rakyat speaker, said that MPs will have their RM500 daily attendance allowance docked for every day they are absent from the Dewan Rakyat. However, he reiterates that currently there are no laws to do so. He felt that the attendance levels in the house should be better, especially amongst Ministers and Deputy Ministers. He said this to the Star Newspaper on 22 October 2019. These statements were in response to the halting of the Budget 2020 proceedings on 16 October 2019 as the quorum dropped below the minimum of 26 MPs.  This event triggered a slew of statements and commentaries by PH leaders on the duties and responsibilities of MPs to their electorate.

Special schedule for govt MPs to boost attendance

22 October 2019 – Liew Vui Keong, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said that a circular will be issued on 23 October 2019 to government MPs. The circular on rules and special schedule for attendance states that there will be attendance slot from 10am to 1pm, noon to 5.30pm and 5.30pm to 8pm. 

Parliament to adopt UK model in bridging gap between lawmakers and 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.

C4 – The Dewan Rakyat Speaker, Mohamad Arfif Md Yusof, has made positive changes within the administration of the Parliament as a whole. An example of which is the creation of the All-party Parliamentary Group (APPG) as part of the function of Parliament. This concept is borrowed from the UK system which sees the creation of an informal working group of MPs, Senators with grass-root societies/leaders to address policies like sustainable development and other related issues in the country. This is a positive move by the house to bring voices of marginalised communities that are currently underserved by the political parties centre-stage in the legislative body. 

Reintroduce and improve the Parliamentary Services Act 1963

Parliament’s autonomy will be restored after bill tabled in March – Nga

30 January 2020

Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Nga Kor Ming said that the Parliament Services Bill 2020 will be tabled in March where it will allow the legislature to be cut off from the Prime Minister’s Department; leading to a separation of powers as Parliament becomes an independent entity. In 2005, the Parliament Services Act 1963 is called to be reinstated by lawmakers.

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They must not be attached to any political parties

30 October 2019 

President of Dewan Negara also President of MIC.  

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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

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

Parliamentary Calendar for 2019 

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

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

3rd Session 2019: 07 October 2019 – 05 December 2019

Total number of days parliament is session: 68 days

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Institutionalise the Select Committee system in Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara, complete with suitable provisions and support staff

17 October 2019
Law Minister Liew Vui Keong announces four new special select committees:

  1. Special Select Committee on Elections
  2. Special Select Committee on International Trade and Relations
  3. Special Select Committee on Human Rights and Constitutional Affairs
  4. Special Select Committee on Science, Innovation and Environment

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21 March 2019 – In the first session of Parliament in 2019 on 11 March sees a major shift in the separation of power from the executive and distributing it to MPs. This is seen in the establishment of six bipartisan Special Select Committees within parliament. These committees will look into: 

  1. Special Select Committee for Consideration of Bills
  2. Special Select Committee on Budget 
  3. Special Select Committee on Defense and Home Affairs
  4. Special Select Committee on Rights and Gender Equality 
  5. Special Select Committee on States and Federal Relations 
  6. Special Select Committee on Major Public Appointments.

Mohd Ariff, the speaker of the Dewan Rakyat said the establishment of these committees will institutionalized the democratic practice and used as a “Check and Balance” mechanism on the executive body.

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

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

11 October 2019 

The Special Select Committee on Major Public Appointments will first review the candidates of the newly formed National Anti-Financial Crime Centre (NAFCC) Director-General and Chairperson before any appointment is made.  

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18 July 2019 – The parliamentary select committee on major public service appointments is to determine the key appointments to four commissions. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today these are the chairmen and members of the Election Commission, Judicial Appointments Commission and Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) as well as the chief commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

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 June 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 January 2019 – Advocate Asociation of Sarawak raises concern that 5 Judicial Appointments Commission members are appointed by the Prime Minister

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. 

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

​No updates​

Produce White Papers to announce major-government policies before a new Act is introduced in Parliament

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

03 July 2019 

The Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQT), one of the pledges made by Pakatan Harapan (PH) in its election manifesto for the 14th general election, might see the light of day after all.

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24 June 2019The Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQT) in Parliament is currently not needed, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong.

11 May 2019 – The government intends to introduce Prime Minister’s Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat, based on a similar practice in the British Parliament.

Empower the Dewan Negara to check and balance the Dewan Rakyat

No updates

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