A ‘functional and inclusive democracy’ needs a people-centred Parliament

Jointly issued by GCPP, or Parliamentary Reform Proposal Group, which includes KPRU.

A ‘functional and inclusive democracy’ needs a people-centred Parliament

MEDIA STATEMENT (6 March 2015)

A “functional and inclusive democracy” was promised to us by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak on Malaysia Day in 2011.

However, when it became apparent that very little was being done to attain this vision even as our democracy was maturing into a two-party system, several civil society groups decided to work on a proposal of recommendations to reform Parliament.

Calling ourselves Gabungan Cadangan Penambahbaikan Parlimen (GCPP), we thought it paramount for Parliament to reflect our robust democracy by being more equitable and accountable as a space for meaningful engagement of the legislative process.

Our proposal, which includes recommendations of MPs from both sides of the political divide as well as input from the Global Movement of Moderates and the Bar Council, presents a brief overview of our demands focusing on four areas:

  1. Reintroduction of the Parliamentary Services Act
  2. Parliamentary Committees
  3. Agenda-Setting in the Dewan Rakyat
  4. Allocations for Research and Constituency Development

On the first area: The Parliamentary Services Act 1963, which was repealed in 1992, must be restored in a first step towards making Parliament administratively and financially independent of the executive. Both ruling and opposition MPs have actually called for this so the battle is half-won. The other half is subject to the executive’s political will.

As for Parliamentary Committees, with the exception of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the current Standing Committees only deal with the inner workings of Parliament. This has resulted in the PAC being over-burdened when it comes to oversight of the executive, which in turn results in legislation being ‘rubber-stamped’ by Parliament.

Our proposal calls for, among others, an increase in Standing Committees. This would be a timely move as it would help us keep up with the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly General Assembly, which Malaysia chairs this year, that has standing committees on a host of issues: Political Matters, Economic Matters, Social Matters, Organisational Matters, Joint Communique, Dialogue with Observer Countries, and Women Parliamentarians of ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly.

The other area that will significantly improve the quality of laws and policy is in the setting of the parliamentary agenda. The current set-up needs to be reviewed for it leaves practically no time to debate Private Member’s Bills or for Non-government Business. We also want an allocation for a Prime Minister’s Question Time and a Shadow Cabinet.

The last area we are emphasising – allocations for research and constituency development – should be self-explanatory. MPs and Senators need timely, up-to-date, accurate and well-researched information for effective decision-making. Consider the practice in the thriving democracy that is our neighbour: Indonesia’s MPs have a personal assistant and a research assistant each, paid for by the state.

Constituency development funds should be scrapped in favour of federal funding for MPs’ office and administration funds; this will put a stop to the current misuse for political campaigning. Development funds, where needed, should be given directly to the local government councils.

A simple comparison of budgetary allocations already shows something is not right with how our Parliament is being run: it receives just RM89 million a year compared with a whopping RM4.5 billion for the Ministry for Transport. How can Parliament be an effective branch of government with so little funding?

The Upper House of Parliament, meant to represent the interests of the states, has had its effectiveness questioned too, to say the least. Since its lethargy is largely owing to a lack of accountability, we are thus proposing an elected senatorship via a state-wide Party List-Proportional Representation System.

We will be presenting our 15-page proposal to Shahidan Kassim in his capacity as the Minister in charge of parliamentary affairs in a meeting we hope to have with him during the Dewan Rakyat session to come.

Issued by:

Gabungan Cadangan Penambahbaikan Parlimen (GCPP, or Parliamentary Reform Proposal Group)*

*GCPP consists of Akademi Belia, Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0), Engage, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), Political Studies for Change (KPRU), Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (PROHAM), Projek Beres, Tindak Malaysia and Undi Malaysia, supported by Global Movement of Moderates and the Bar Council.

————– 

KENYATAAN MEDIA (6 Mac 2015)

‘Demokrasi yang berfungsi dan inklusif’ memerlukan Parlimen berpaksikan rakyat

 

Pada Hari Malaysia tahun 2011, Perdana Menteri Najib Abdul Razak telah menjanjikan rakyat Malaysia “demokrasi yang berfungsi dan inklusif”.

Walau bagaimanapun, apabila semakin jelas dilihat bahawa tidak banyak yang telah dilakukan untuk mencapai wawasan ini walaupun tahap demokrasi kita semakin matang menghampiri sistem dua parti, kumpulan masyarakat sivil mengambil inisiatif untuk memberi syor penambahbaikan Parlimen.

Gabungan Cadangan Penambahbaikan Parlimen (GCPP) dibentuk dengan berpegangkan dasar bahawa Parlimen harus mencerminkan demokrasi yang mantap – yakni, ia harus lebih adil dan bertanggungjawab sebagai ruang pelaksanaan proses perundangan secara bermakna.

Cadangan GCPP termasuk pendapat daripada Ahli Parlimen parti pemerintah dan pembangkang serta Gerakan Kesederhanaan Global dan Majlis Peguam Negara. Ia merupakan gambaran ringkas mengenai tuntutan kami dari segi empat bidang:

1. Memperkenalkan semula Akta Perkhidmatan Parlimen

2. Jawatankuasa Parlimen

3. Penetapan Agenda Dewan Rakyat

4. Peruntukan Kajian dan Pembangunan Kawasan

 

Berkenaan bidang pertama: Akta Perkhidmatan Parlimen 1963, yang telah dimansuhkan pada tahun 1992, perlu dipulihkan sebagai langkah pertama ke arah membebaskan Parlimen daripada penguasaan eksekutif dari segi pentadbiran dan kewangan. Malah, kedua-dua Ahli Parlimen pemerintah dan pembangkang telah menyeru supaya akta ini dipulihkan maka pertempuran sudah setengah menang. Separuh lagi adalah tertakluk kepada kehendak politik eksekutif.

Berkenaan bidang kedua, semua Jawatankuasa Tetap, kecuali Jawatankuasa Kira-kira Wang Awam Negara (PAC), hanya mekanisme dalaman Parlimen. Ini telah membebankan PAC dalam tugas pengawasan kuasa eksekutif, yang seterusnya melahirkan undang-undang yang sekadar ‘dicop’ Parlimen.

Cadangan kami memerlukan, antara lain, penambahan bilangan Jawatankuasa Tetap. Ini merupakan langkah yang tepat pada masanya memandangkan bahawa tahun ini Malaysia ialah pengerusi Perhimpunan Agung Dewan Antara Parlimen ASEAN, yang telah menubuhkan jawatankuasa mengenai pelbagai isu: politik, ekonomi, sosial, organisasi, Kenyataan Bersama, Dialog bersama Pemerhati Negara, dan Ahli Parlimen Wanita dalam Dewan Antara Parlimen ASEAN.

Seperkara lain yang akan meningkatkan mutu undang-undang dan dasar ialah penetapan agenda Parlimen. Cara agenda ditetapkan pada masa ini perlu dikaji semula kerana ia tidak memberi masa untuk membahaskan Rang Undang-undang Ahli Persendirian atau bagi Perkara Bukan-Kerajaan. Kami juga mahu peruntukan bagi Masa untuk Soalan kepada Perdana Menteri serta Kabinet Bayangan.

Selain itu, peruntukan bagi kajian dan pembangunan kawasan perlu diulas. Ahli Parlimen memerlukan maklumat yang baru, jitu, tepat pada masanya dan yang diperolehi daripada kajian menyeluruh untuk membuat keputusan secara berkesan. Pertimbangkan amalan negara jiran kita yang kini memperlihatkan demokrasi yang berkembang maju: setiap Ahli Parlimen Indonesia mempunyai pembantu peribadi dan pembantu penyelidik yang dibayar oleh kerajaan.

Dana pembangunan kawasan perlu dihapuskan; sebaliknya kerajaan persekutuan harus membiayai dana pentadbiran dan pejabat Ahli Parlimen. Dengan cara ini, penyalahgunaan dana pembangunan bagi tujuan kempen politik dapat dihentikan. Di mana dana pembangunan diperlukan, ia harus diberi secara langsung kepada majlis kerajaan tempatan.

Dapat dilihat dalam perbandingan peruntukan belanjawan bahawa ada sesuatu yang tidak kena dengan cara Parlimen dikendalikan: ia hanya menerima RM89 juta setahun berbanding dengan RM4.5 bilion bagi Kementerian Pengangkutan. Bagaimanakah Parlimen boleh berfungsi secara berkesan sebagai cawangan kerajaan dengan pembiayaan yang begitu sedikit sekali?

Keberkesanan Dewan Negara, yang berfungsi untuk mewakili kepentingan negeri, juga sering dipersoalkan. Disebabkan punca kelesuan dalam Dewan ini ialah kekurangan akauntabiliti, maka kami seterusnya mencadangkan agar senator dipilih melalui Sistem Perwakilan Berkadar-Senarai Parti di seluruh negeri.

Kami akan membentangkan cadangan 15 helaian ini kepada Menteri hal-ehwal Parlimen Dato’ Seri Shahidan Kassim pada pertemuan yang kami harap dapat diaturkan semasa sesi Dewan Rakyat yang akan datang.

 

Dikeluarkan oleh:

Gabungan Cadangan Penambahbaikan Parlimen (GCPP) 

*GCPP terdiri daripada Akademi Belia, Gabungan Pilihanraya Bersih dan Adil (BERSIH 2.0), Engage, Institut Demokrasi dan Hal Ehwal Ekonomi (IDEAS), Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan (KPRU), Persatuan Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia (PROHAM), Projek Beres, TindakMalaysia dan Undi Malaysia, dan disokong oleh Gerakan Kesederhanaan Global dan Majlis Peguam Negara.

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