Malaysiakini Letter

Institutional reforms - why not bipartisan commitment?

Aira Nur Ariana Azhari  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | Many politicians have been proposing for various institutional reforms, especially as they gear up for GE14.

These politicians come from both sides of the political divide. In his speech at the Malaysian Institute of Integrity yesterday afternoon, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that key institutions must show the highest level of integrity to ensure we can fight corruption.

Earlier this month, PPBM's Deputy President Mukhriz Mahathir also mentioned that Pakatan Harapan will implement various institutional reforms if they come into power.

These, they said, include a two-term limit for the post of prime minister, separating the posts of finance minister and prime minister and various other steps to improve institutions like the office of the IGP, attorney- general, the Election Commission, and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

It is great that all politicians seem to acknowledge the importance of having better institutions in Malaysia. These are positive ideas that we need to ensure liberal democracy flourishes.

A well-functioning liberal democracy is not merely about conducting elections every five years.

Institutions must be fully independent and conflicts of interest must be prevented. These proposals by the politicians are a long time coming, and they echo what civil society has been championing for.

Since everyone seems to be in agreement about the need for institutional reforms, why not work for a bipartisan commitment to achieve them?

One party should show magnanimity to make the offer to the other side so that we can see they are sincere and not just trying to score political points. In fact, political parties should not need an election to call for these reforms.

At Ideas we have done a lot of work in the past to push for greater transparency and accountability in all our public institutions.

For example, we have produced specific proposals to improve the independence of the MACC commissioners and we have also looked into how to improve the offices of the attorney-general and the police force.

It is great that these politicians are taking our suggestions. I hope they will now find common ground and support the reforms in a bipartisan way, rather than just making them campaign slogans.

The writer is coordinator, Democracy and Governance Unit, Ideas.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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