PETALING JAYA, July 7 — Former Johor Bahru MP Tan Sri Shahrir Samad has today mooted a return of the Parliamentary Services Act (PSA) that had kept the House independent of Putrajaya.
The Umno veteran said the PSA would help restructure the Parliament and the way MPs work, which would inevitably make them work harder and earn their pay.
"I can tell you from the government side, backbenchers have so much time that they can be chairman of GLC and so on," he said in a forum organised by Bersih and Malaysian Bar Council, referring to government-linked companies.
"You have to make them work harder for the money they take back home. How do you change? You have to change the way the Parliament works."
PSA was first introduced in 1963, allowing the 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However, it was repealed in 1992 during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first stint as prime minister, with parliamentary affairs now placed directly under the Prime Minister’s Department.
Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had previously proposed reintroducing PSA to strengthen the power and independence of the Parliament.
MPs receive a monthly allowance of RM16,000 and several other benefits, according to the Members of Parliament (Remuneration) Act 1980.
Another panellist today, Subang MP Wong Chen said he agrees with Shahrir's sentiment that MPs may not be working hard enough.
However, he pointed out that it was members of the civil service themselves that had opposed the reintroduction of the PSA, as they allegedly wish to be promoted to other posts in ministries or the Prime Minister's Department after serving in the Parliament.
"So, you must have a PSA, otherwise your administration is working against the interests of the public,” he said.
Former speaker of Dewan Rakyat, Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Yusoff speaks during the Bersih and the Bar Council Conference on Necessary Pre-GE15 Reforms in Petaling Jaya, July 7, 2022. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
In a separate panel afterwards. former Dewan Rakyat speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Yusoff also brought up a similar concern — saying that the Dewan Rakyat should sit at least 150 days annually as opposed to just 60 to 70 days currently.
He said that it is better so MP could focus on their work to legislate, rather than focusing just on their constituencies.
"They can 'balik kawasan; but they have to realise their work as the legislature,” he said, using the Malay term that means checking on one's constituency.
The two-day conference organised by Bersih and Malaysian Bar had presented nine panels, with 22 panellists with the tagline of "Gearing Up for GE15, What Reforms does the people want.”
It discussed the matter of election reforms from both sides of the opposition and government political leaders.