MAINTAIN EXISTING PARLIAMENTARY SELECT COMMITTEES TO UPHOLD DEMOCRACY

MAINTAIN EXISTING PARLIAMENTARY SELECT COMMITTEES TO UPHOLD DEMOCRACY

I totally object to the one-day Dewan Rakyat session as a full virtual parliament sitting via video conferencing should be held instead as Malaysia already has the technology to do so. This is already being implemented at this time in countries such as Canada and the UK while many other parliaments have also adopted other methods to ensure government scrutiny and parliamentary procedures continue during this global pandemic. This includes reducing the number of MPs attending; staggering attendance of MPs; and using thermal imaging to measure the temperatures of MPs.

Hence, it is appalling that this present government fails to understand the importance of holding a Parliament sitting. It is even more imperative for sittings to be held at a time when Malaysia is facing a crisis. As democratically elected representatives of the people, we have the duty and responsibility to raise our concerns, to question national policies and give our opinions regarding a number of pressing issues, such as the Covid-19 stimulus budgets, the status of management of the virus, the distribution of assistance to the needy, the economic recovery plans post-Covid19, the social safety net for peoples in Malaysia and many other issues.

Secondly, I refer to the statement made by the Parliament and Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan today (8 May 2020), who dropped a bombshell that one of the four motions proposed by government will be to appoint a select committee that “would be tasked with replacing existing parliamentary select committees.”

It was in fact, under the Pakatan Harapan government, that the Parliament Select Committees were revived and made very much part of the democratic effort to empower Members of Parliament to be more fully involved in national policy and law making. Without the vibrancy and “watchdog” role of the select committees, PN is going against the grain of building democratic processes and brings disrepute to the august house.

We currently have 11 Parliamentary Select Committees including the Public Accounts Committee with topics focusing from science and innovation, trade and international relations, human rights, gender equality, public appointments, government expenditure, and others. If we merge all of these under one select committee, important issues will surely be silenced. It will also end the chance for key stakeholders to reach MPs with public-driven policy initiatives through the select committees, thus making MPs less proactive to developments within those key areas.

Perikatan Nasional seems to be on a campaign to suppress all democratic platforms and to kill off any check and balance to its administration.

Without any accountability, does this also mean that those government MPs selected to sit in cushy, highly paid positions like CEOs or board chairmanship within Government-Linked Companies (GLCs) will operate in complete opacity?

We seem to be witnessing a PN government being the key proponent in breaking up of our already fragile democracy and devolving it into an autocracy by centralising control.

If we continue to allow the Government to act this way, constructive dissent and individual freedom will soon be eroded.

MARIA CHIN ABDULLAH
PETALING JAYA MP