Azalina: Ombudsman Malaysia Bill to be tabled in October

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

PUTRAJAYA, May 8 — The legislation for the establishment of Ombudsman Malaysia, an independent body to address the wide range of public complaints against government departments or agencies, is now slated for Parliament tabling in October.

With less than five months to go, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the federal government was in the final stage of engaging stakeholders such as NGOs and civil society organisations to fine-tune the Bill for eventual Cabinet approval.

“When we speak of accountable government, one of the elements is that complaints must be allowed.

“The problem now is that not because you are the government of the day, you are right all the time.

“What is important is that the prime minister wants an independent body that is open to take public complaints against government agencies,” she told a press conference here.

Azalina said among the key takeaways is that it is an independent statutory body whose membership is limited to a six-year term with no affiliation to the state.

“I am not saying the existing Public Complaints Bureau is not independent, but they are part of the existing system.

“With Ombudsman Malaysia, we will also ensure the need for an annual report to be tabled and debated in Parliament whose functions are unlike ordinary government agencies.

Some of the fine-tuning Azalina revealed today were on issues pertaining to its establishment such as investigative powers, types of complaints and grace period for a complaint to be resolved.

She also said it was necessary so that the body can achieve its purpose without giving false hope to the public.

When asked to elaborate further, Azalina said Ombudsman Malaysia would be similar in its policies to its Commonwealth counterparts in countries such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

She said at the moment, a significant proportion of public complaints, at some 85 per cent, stemmed from dissatisfaction with local authorities, with many complaints also discovered to be time-consuming in their remedial action.

Emphasising the need for accountability as spearheaded by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Azalina said the proposed Ombudsman Malaysia was finally being realised after having been pledged by several past administrations.

“Ombudsman Malaysia functions as an independent body that receives, handles and resolving complaints against maladministration of public services to promote good and ethical governance,” she said.

The proposal for the establishment of Ombudsman Malaysia to replace the Public Complaints Bureau (PCB) was made in 2018 by then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as an effort to ensure that all complaints relating to government ministries, departments and agencies could be addressed more effectively.

In general, an ombudsman is a state official appointed to provide a check on government activity in the interests of the citizen and to oversee the investigation of complaints of improper government activities against the citizen.

According to Parliament Malaysia’s website, the Third Meeting of the Second Session of 15th Parliament is scheduled to take place from October 9 to November 30 over a period of 32 days.