top of page
  • Writer's pictureBait Al-Amanah

SEED Community: Roadmap on Parliamentary Reform Crucial

The Seed Community for a Professional Parliament (SCPP) calls on the Madani Government to present a roadmap for parliamentary reform with a clear timetable. It should stop using ‘coalition government’ as a reason to conceal its lack of appetite and urgency to pursue institutional reforms.


After 15 months in power, the Pakatan Harapan-led Madani government has not completed any major institutional reforms. While commendable initial steps have been taken on reforms like the separation of Public Prosecutor from the Attorney-General, we do not see concrete timelines that show urgency. Without a commitment to introduce a Fixed Term Parliament Act (FTPA), it is perfectly possible that this Parliament is dissolved before any major reform is materialised.


This roadmap of parliamentary reform, in the view of SCPP, should include:


  1. Enactment of a Parliamentary Services Act that restores budgetary and administrative autonomy to the Parliament.

  2. Strengthening and expansion of Parliamentary Select Committees through Standing Order (SO) amendments.

  3.  Earmarking non-government business time in parliamentary sitting and enabling private members bill through SO amendments.

  4. Enactment of a Fixed Term Parliament Act and prioritising the motions of Confidence and No-Confidence through SO amendments.

  5. Recognition of a shadow cabinet, with resources and information access to shadow ministers.


We do not accept PH’s reasons that the coalition government it leads is the reason for its delays in bringing about institutional reforms. Such an excuse is indirectly and unfairly framing its coalition partners -- BN, GPS, GRS, Warisan - as anti-reformist by claiming a monopoly for reforms. From UMNO and GPS, we have seen serious institutional reformers like the Minister for Institutional Reforms and Law Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said and former Senate President Tun Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.


Coalition governments may have a stronger drive than strong single-party governments to deliver reforms when those reforms can benefit smaller partners of the coalition government. The UK’s FTPA, for example, was introduced by the Conservatives-LibDem Coalition Government due to the demand of its junior partner, LibDem.


Parliamentary reforms would provide more meaningful roles for government backbenchers as well as opposition members. As minor partners in Government have fewer ministers in Cabinet, parliamentary reforms empower their parliamentarians.


While coalition partners may have different priorities and specific concerns on certain reforms, this only means more consultations are needed, not stagnation. If coalition partners have their reservations or even objections, their views deserve to be heard and considered, not ignored in silence.


Preparation of this roadmap of parliamentary reform can be a productive process to align the interests and concerns of parties in the Madani coalition government. It can even help in stabilising politics if the opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN) is invited and willing to take part to shape it.


SCPP calls upon Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to seek the leadership of Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul and the new Dewan Negara President Datuk Mutang Tugal to spearhead this roadmap and back it up with full political and financial support.


Before both GE 14 (2018) and GE15 (2022), Malaysia experienced one political crisis after another, which exposed the multi-layered and systemic defects and vulnerabilities in our political system and our political culture. This extended period of political strife led Malaysians from all backgrounds and political beliefs to recognise the necessity for structural reforms in our political, economic and social policies. It is undoubtedly a consequence of these factors that PH and its partners put the reform agenda front and centre in its electoral manifestos and won the backing of the Rakyat in both GE14 and GE15.


It is now time for PH to deliver on its reform promises, many made more than a decade ago. If PH and its coalition partners do not want to be punished by voters for promising reforms but not delivering them in time before the dissolution of the 15th parliament, they should communicate with the public on a reasonable timetable that underlines the Madani Government’s commitment.


SCPP also calls upon the Opposition parties, PN and the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA), to support this call for a parliamentary road map. Malaysia deserves a professional Opposition that provides effective checks and balances on the government instead of plotting the downfall of governments through the collection and counting of statutory declarations (SDs).


Consistent with what the government has done for the separation of the Attorney General and Public Prosecutor, we also suggest that the reforms currently being planned can be worked on by the relevant Parliamentary Special Select Committees as this would ensure better decision-making since members of Parliament from both Government and Opposition can contribute to the policy. There is also a greater likelihood of bipartisan support.


The Madani Government should not think the public will forget these reforms: political financing bill, separation of the role of Attorney-General and Public Prosecutor, Parliamentary Services Act, amendments to the Parliamentary Standing Orders, equal Constituency Development Funds, MACC reform and freedom of information law.


We trust that the Madani Government will announce a clear timeline and strategy to the public to emphasise its clear commitment to institutional reforms.


This statement is initiated by the Seed Community for a Professional Parliament, a network of individuals active in civil society organisations, think tanks and academia working towards a professional Parliament that facilitates healthy policy competition between parties.


Can visit our FB Page for more statements and campaign materials:


Signed by:


1. Projek SAMA

2. Institute for Political Reform and Democracy (Reform)

3. Engage

4. IDEAS

5. Maha Balakrishnan

6. Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (Bersih)

7. Bait Al Amanah

8. Undi18

12 views0 comments

Comments


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page