LETTER | The nation has witnessed a heated debate regarding the reconvening of the Parliament amidst a global pandemic.
The general public has been vocal with their concerns regarding the spike in cases and the way the federal government chooses to handle the issue. However, as a nation, we must focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.
The recent pandemic has proven the need to reform the political structures in the country and push for better governance.
The government must be urged to revive the Parliamentary Services Act 1963 (repealed 1992) to enhance the autonomy of the Parliament, especially in its role to draft national policy.
Prior to its amendment in 1992, the Parliamentary Services Act (PSA) 1963 enabled the body to conduct its own administering, staffing and financing. The repeal of the PSA meant that all staffing and budget of the Parliament is decided by the ruling government.
A proposed arrangement would be to appoint committees that are independent of the ruling government that would act in the interest of the parliamentarians and not the government of the day.
With this, the executive body is kept at an arms-length, and policies in favour of public interest will be given an opportunity to develop. Reinstatement of the PSA would also mean that the Parliament would acquire resources to carry out research on laws to positively impact the current socio-political and economical environment, including private member bills that rarely become law in the current political landscape.
The opposition party led by Anwar Ibrahim has been vocal about the reinstatement of the PSA, however, met by criticisms by many including constitutional scholar, Shad Saleem Faruqi, calling it a “mere symbolic gesture”. This means that even with an independent parliament, the majority of the MPs still vote according to party lines and not on the merits of the proposed bill itself.
However, keeping in mind the current political landscape and the power concentrated within one branch of government shows that the revival of the PSA would be the right step forward to achieve parliamentary independence and upholding the doctrine of separation of powers.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.