KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 — Johor Pakatan Harapan (PH) said today it wants the state government to form five select committees in a spirit of bipartisanship.
Opposition chief Liew Chin Tong said he had written to Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi to propose the formation of select committees for good governance and integrity, climate change and urban and rural planning, Johor-Singapore cooperation, rejuvenating federalism and empowering the states, and economy and wellbeing of the Johor public.
“During my courtesy call to the mentri besar on April 16, we discussed at length the importance of select committees. On April 21, the mentri besar told me privately that the idea of bipartisan select committees is 'on his radar', and he had also told the media that he looked forward to setting up these committees.
“Functioning thematic bipartisan committees will ensure elected representatives are well-versed in policy matters and develop policy focuses and fortes for themselves, which will improve the quality of public debates inside and outside of the Dewan,” he said in a statement here.
Liew said all the committees are straightforward in nature except for the one on rejuvenating federalism, which calls for the country to reset the current constitutional arrangement which concentrates too much power in the federal government at the expense of the state governments like Johor.
“It is the legacy of the previous one-party state dominated by an Umno prime minister that had all the state chief ministers and mentris besar taking instructions from the prime minister. The time has changed.
“Malaysia needs a federation that gives the Johor state government more power in health, economic development and education, just to name a few, and a higher share in income tax collection from Johor. When the Constitution was framed in 1957, tax sources from land were crucial whereas income tax was hardly featured then. But today, it is the reverse and income taxes form the largest part of federal revenue,” he said.
He added that the sharing of income taxes with the state government is not a zero-sum game as the more economic development and the more collection means both federal and state benefit from a larger pie.
“This is a huge topic and a very important one for the future of Johor, befitting serious bipartisan effort,” he said.