KUALA LUMPUR, July 21 — The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) today submitted a memorandum to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar seeking the revival of the Parliamentary Services Act with a view to ensuring an independent Parliament.
The election watchdog’s chairman Thomas Fann said the PSA was important as it signalled the independence of Parliament from the executive branch of the government.
“Besides functioning as a legislative and forming laws, the Parliament also functions as a check and balance system to control the executive body.
“To allow Parliament to do this without disruption from the government, Parliament should be given its own autonomy and finances,” he told reporters after handing over the memorandum today.
It was supported by Opposition MPs including Pejuang chairman and Langkawi MP Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, PKR’s Subang MP Wong Chen, and Amanah’s Pokok Sena MP Datuk Mahfuz Omar, as well as 38 other civil societies and prominent individuals such as former Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof.
First introduced in 1963, the PSA allowed Parliament to act as a truly independent body, running its own affairs, selecting its staff and controlling its expenditure.
However, it was repealed in 1992 during Dr Mahathir’s first stint as prime minister, with parliamentary affairs now placed directly under the Prime Minister’s Department.
The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had proposed the reintroduction of the PSA to strengthen the power and independence of Parliament.
Apart from Bersih, another group, Gabungan Gerakan Mahasiswa, also gathered near Padang Merbok before making their way towards the gates of Parliament at 9am today.
The group called for the government to find solutions to combat the rising price of goods due to inflation.
Around 50 individuals from both groups were stopped by the police just before the building’s driveway on Jalan Parlimen where they proceeded to hold up placards.
The groups dispersed at around 11.30am.