*This article was published in MalaysiaKini
A coalition of civil society groups has urged the authorities to allow Standing Committees and Select Committees of both Houses of Parliament to fully operate.
The coalition, called the Seed Community for a Professional Parliament, said these committees play a crucial check and balance role on the Executive.
It recommended that the standing orders be amended to allow the committees to conduct proceedings online as a way to circumvent the Covid-19 threat and avoid inconveniencing committee members in Sabah and Sarawak from undergoing quarantine.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the coalition said, should immediately review and investigate all expenditure by the government during the emergency period, especially since the use of National Trust Fund (Kwan) monies was not granted parliamentary approval.
The Committee on Health, Science and Innovation should review the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme over Malaysia’s Covid-19 response.
Other matters that need to be assessed by select committees are the needs of households during the movement control order and the impact of the pandemic on the economy.
“Therefore, it should be noted that the parliamentary committees, as a core component of a legislative body in a democratic country, cannot be denied their independence and should play an active role in improving national policies and legislation, especially during the Covid-19 outbreak,” the coalition said.
The coalition comprises Bersih, Engage, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), Persatuan Pengundi Muda (Undi18), Institute for Political Reform and Democracy (Reform) and Bait Al-Amanah.
The Select Committee on Health, Science and Innovation is expected to meet from tomorrow. Its agenda is not known.
The PAC is scheduled to meet beginning July 27 with a hearing involving Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
The next day, the PAC will summon Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz and accountant-general Yacob Mustafa.
*Refer below for the full Media Statement