Politicians back Pandikar’s call for reforms to Parliament

Politicians back Pandikar’s call for reforms to Parliament
Mr Pandikar Amin Mulia admitted yesterday at a press conference that he had planned to resign from his post but withdrew his resignation after a meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Politicians across the divide have backed Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia's call for reforms to counter accusations that Parliament is a mere rubber stamp for the Executive.

For a start, the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club (BNBBC) said the Dewan Rakyat Speaker should initiate improvements in parliamentary proceedings.

BNBBC chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Samad (pic) said Pandikar could begin by setting up a working committee to look into the possibility of making Parliament an independent institution that is above the orders of the Executive.

"The working group can consist of law practitioners, former Members of Parliament, former ministers and those who have in-depth knowledge of the parliamentary process," Shahrir told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

The Johor Baru MP said the process needed to take into account the political system that draws a clear line between the Executive and Legislature.

"We hope this can be initiated from the Speaker's office and not from the Prime Minister or the Cabinet.

"We will support the Speaker's move," he added.

On Tuesday, Pandikar had cited his frustration with Parliament as an institution as the main reason for wanting to quit as Speaker.

He said he had asked in a meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that the position of Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of parliamentary affairs be scrapped "to remove the perception that Parliament and the Speaker worked on the orders of the Executive, contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers".

However, Shahrir said scrapping the ministerial post would involve reviving the Parliamentary Services Act 1963 that was repealed in 1992.

"Since the abolition, Parliament has became like a government department and it became necessary for the Government to have a minister to look after it.

"When we have a minister, he needs to have an office in Parliament and have a formal structure which involves the position of director-general and civil servants.

"So, where do you draw the line? One is civil service, one is legislative," said Shahrir.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the minister's influence should be restricted.

"The minister should not be dictating the function of Parliament, as is the case now.

"We are not saying the position should be abolished completely. In other Asian countries like India, there is a minister in charge but merely as a coordinator," said the PKR president, who had welcomed Pandikar's suggestion to see a clearer separation of powers between the Executive and Legislature.

To that end, she said Pakatan had agreed to form its own Parliamentary Improvements Committee.

"We hope that a new and improved Parliamentary system can be realised as early as next March," said PAS parliamentary whip and Pokok Sena MP Datuk Mahfuz Omar.

DAP whip Anthony Loke Siew Fook said one way to ensure the House did not extend proceedings into the wee hours was to conduct its business through committees.

"We would like to propose that eight permanent policy committees be set up, each overseeing an average of three to four ministries.

"For example, a security policy committee will oversee the Home Ministry and Defence Ministry," he said in a statement.

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