Report on Parliament transformation will be submitted to Cabinet

Date:

KUALA LUMPUR: A report on Parliament transformation will be submitted to the Cabinet soon for endorsement, Minister in Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said.

He said a joint committee between Parliament and his ministry will also be formed to ensure that various proposals discussed on the matter can be executed swiftly, as agreed upon during his discussion with Senate president Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun on Thursday. 

“I am indeed happy to inform that both the Senate president and the Dewan Rakyat Speaker took the proposals positively and are in fact, prepared to take on the lead role in the transformation of our Parliament,” he said in a statement today.

He said the three main issues discussed were the proposals to revive or re-introduce the Parliamentary Service Act to give independence to Parliament, to create a new act of Parliament to replace the Houses of Parliament Privilege and Powers Act 1952 (revised 1988) and to make more amendments to the present Standing Orders and Rules of Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara.

Wan Junaidi said the move to revive or re-introduce the Parliamentary Service Act to give independence to Parliament is consistent with what has been taken by other parliaments internationally.

This is based on Article 62 (Parliamentary procedure) and Article 63 (Privileges of Parliament) under the Federal Constitution, he said.

On the proposal to create a new act of parliament to replace the Houses of Parliament Privilege and Powers Act 1952 (revised 1988), he said the current act must indeed be replaced.

“This act was created in 1952, under the 1952 parliamentary environment. It was not even a parliamentary environment, as it was created while Malaya was under Federal Agreement 1948. The existing act is completely obsolete and outdated and no longer suitable for the political landscape in the 21st century,” he said.

Wan Junaidi said instead of amending it, it is better to come up with a new act of Parliament that is more comprehensive, inclusive and complete.

“This is to also follow what is currently being made by most Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and India,” he said.

Elaborating the discussion on more amendments to the present Standing Orders and Rules of Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara, Wan Junaidi said the move is crucial in order to suit the proposed new act of Parliament and the re-introduction of the Parliamentary Service Act.

“While there have been amendments made from time to time, many of these rules are a relic of the Federal Agreement 1948, which was only amended in 1956 for the independence of Malaya in 1957.

“It was further amended in 1959 to create a basis for the Standing Order and Rules of Dewan Negara and Dewan Rakyat. However, many of these rules are not able to accommodate many modern things in Parliament,” he said.

Wan Junaidi also said many Commonwealth countries have been making necessary amendments to their rules and procedure in Parliament to suit the current time.

“In our quest for Parliamentary reforms, it is crucial for us to make more changes and improvements to the set of rules that may no longer be suitable in today’s environment. The amendments made should also focus on efforts to empower the Parliamentary committee,” he added.

Meanwhile, Rais and Azhar in a joint statement said that they welcomed the transformation and reform measures of Parliament and pledged their support to the initiative.

It is a manifestation of the determination to uphold parliamentary democracy and the principle of separation of powers among the country’s legislative, executive and judicial functions to ensure that it could work well and continue to be preserved, said the statement.

“The proposal for Parliament transformation is the prerogative of Parliament and will be mobilised as soon as possible before being submitted to the Cabinet for evaluation and approval,” read the statement.

Engagement sessions on the matter would be conducted from time to time, it added. – Bernama

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