Pandikar Amin, walk the talk

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Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

Bersih 2.0 calls for the Speaker to continue the struggle for parliamentary reform in an open and transparent manner.

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) welcomes Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia’s statement (on 19 May 2015), detailing his desire for an independent Parliament, free from executive control.

The Speaker’s demands echo those made by the recently formed Parliamentary Reform Proposal Group, which include:

  • The re-introduction of the Parliamentary Services Act, to revive the doctrine of separation of powers.
  • The expansion of Parliamentary Committees, so Parliament can have effective oversight of the executive and develop high quality legislation.
  • Reforming agenda-setting in the Dewan Rakyat, to allow for Prime Minister’s Question Time and more robust debate on critical issues.
  • The fair and adequate allocation of resources to Members of Parliament.

Bersih 2.0 has been encouraged by the support for parliamentary reform from Members of Parliament and many civil society organisations. Now, with the additional backing of the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, we demand the government take these calls for reform seriously.

The first step must be for both the government and Pandikar Amin to meet with civil society and other key stakeholders, such as parliamentary researchers, to discuss the reforms and show a willingness to move towards a transparent and accountable Parliament. To date, Bersih 2.0’s attempts to secure meetings with government ministers and Pandikar Amin have received no response.

Secondly, we urge Pandikar Amin to lead by example in his role as Dewan Rakyat Speaker. Debates should not be allowed to continue into the early hours of the morning, as was the case with the passing of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the amendments to the Sedition Act. He should also initiate further public debate on the necessity of an effective, independent and efficient Parliament.

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This is not the first time Pandikar Amin has advocated for positive changes to the Dewan Rakyat. In July 2014, he called for Pakatan Rakyat to set up a Shadow Cabinet. In most Westminster systems, the Shadow Cabinet is formed by the party with the second largest number of seats in the Dewan Rakyat. As such, Pandikar Amin must publicly support a motion for the Standing Orders Committee to examine the official recognition of a Shadow Cabinet, which would be given additional resources and time allocations to question their ministerial counterparts.

Bersih 2.0 calls for the Speaker to continue the struggle for parliamentary reform in an open and transparent manner. No Parliament can be functional and inclusive without consultation with the rakyat. Nor can any country claim to be democratic if the Houses of Parliament are shrouded in secrecy.

Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0, which consists of:

Chairperson: Maria Chin Abdullah; Deputy Chairperson: Sarajun Hoda Abdul Hassan; Treasurer: Masjaliza Hamzah; national representatives: Assoc. Prof. Dr Abdul Halim bin Yusof, Farhana binti Abdul Halim, Fadiah Nadwa Fikri and New Sin Yew; vice-chairpersons: Jannie Lasimbang (Sabah), Ahmad b. Awang Ali (Sarawak), Abd Halim b. Wan Ismail (East Peninsula), Thomas Fann (South Peninsula), Simon Lee Ying Wai (Central Peninsula) and Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon (North Peninsula).

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