Reforms made selectively will erode public trust in Parliament, Opposition MPs warn

·3-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

PETALING JAYA, June 6 — The ability of Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to press through with institutional reforms in Parliament will be tested in the upcoming Dewan Rakyat sitting this month, two Pakatan Harapan (PH) MPs said today.

Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil said reform proposals like those limiting the prime minister’s tenure to 10 years have made it into the memorandum of understanding between the government and the Opposition coalition with a Bill put together.

He said the Bill should be tabled in this month’s parliamentary sitting as typically this is the season when new laws are presented, but added that it remained to be seen if it will be given priority for debate in the Dewan Rakyat this round.

“So the second term is the time period we see now, where most of the Bills can be tabled and debated and approved.

“The question is, which Bill will be tabled first?” he said at a public forum titled “Prime Minister’s 10-year Tenure Limit” organised by electoral reform group Bersih and the Malaysian Bar at the Crystal Crown Hotel here.

The PKR politician said that government affairs are usually given priority and as prime minister, Ismail Sabri has the prerogative to decide the order of matters to be discussed in the Dewan Rakyat.

He also said it remained to be seen if Ismail Sabri would be able to get two-thirds of MPs to set aside their personal and partisan differences and support the Bill.

He pointed out that even if one law were amended this time, it would not be sufficient to constitute fundamental reforms if the other Bills were not passed.

“We can’t view reforms in a vacuum, no point in just passing one but denying the others. It leads not only to systemic erosion, not only to the trust [issues of political parties] but also the system itself,” Fahmi said.

Kluang MP Wong Shu Qi, a panellist on the forum, said that calls to limit the tenure for elected representatives were unnecessary, since not all held executive powers, unlike the prime minister.

However, she said that there is a need to evaluate MPs, and suggested it be based on their support for the number of Bills passed in Parliament or their contributions in a parliamentary committee.

“We should empower Parliament so that MPs can perform their duties,” she said.

The DAP politician said the most important question when it came to implementing a 10-year tenure limit for the prime minister was whether those aspiring to head the government would be open to curbing their future power.

“To me, the biggest challenge is whether there is political will. Would the parliamentarians be willing to support such reforms?” she asked.

Minister in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Redzuan Yusoff was named as the third panellist in today’s public forum but was a no-show.

The government previously indicated its agreement to limit the PM’s tenure.

On March 2, de facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the proposed constitutional amendment to limit the prime minister’s tenure to 10 years will be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat this month.

Wan Junaidi said several engagement sessions had been held with MPs, senators and civil society members on the proposed Bill.

Wan Junaidi also said the government would table a Bill to bring back the Parliamentary Services Act as well as amendments to the Houses of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Act in the upcoming sitting that starts July 18.

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