COMMENT The Dewan Rakyat will resume sitting on Oct 17. The Dewan Rakyat Order Paper showed that the first four items of business consists of three motions and one government bill. The motion by the president of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) and member of parliament (MP) for Marang, Hadi Awang, is being listed as the fourth item. It is understandable that the media are focusing on this fourth item.
In the past, the media tend to make such reports, treating a motion as a bill, and treating the legislative procedure of a private member’s bill as the same as that of a government bill. Dealing with the controversial ‘hudud issue’, the media currently needs to present the aspects of the different legislative procedures.
The legislative procedures for government Bills and non-government Bills are not different. Those being presented by government frontbenchers or ‘MPs who are ministers’ are government bills, while those being presented by the so-called ‘ordinary Members of Parliament’ (ordinary MPs) or ‘MPs who are not ministers’ are non-government Bills.
The government frontbenchers are representing the executive branch, while the ordinary MPs consisting of government backbenchers, opposition MPs and independent MPs, are representing the legislative branch.
In terms of institutional design, Malaysia is not really practicing a system of separation of power. The so-called legislative role of the Parliament is conducted by the executive branch. The government frontbenchers not only hold the power of presenting government bills, but also controlling the legislative procedure for the ordinary MPs to present their non-government bills.
Leaving aside the roles of the Dewan Negara (Senate) and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (the Agong), the procedure of a government bill in the Dewan Rakyat, is basically First Reading, Second Reading, Committee of the whole House, and Third Reading.
The main points of this legislative procedure are, the one presenting the bill is a government frontbencher, the bill being presented is a government bill, and the government’s agenda is running through the entire system. The role of the ordinary MPs is strictly speaking, not legislating (making laws). This is because under the system of fusion of power, the legislative branch is being led by the executive branch.
However, when dealing with non-government Bills, the legislative procedure would be different. Despite this, if the executive branch wants to ensure the legislating of a non-government bill, it will also be led by the executive in the first place. How is this going to be implemented under the system? How is the will of the executive going to bear fruit through a different legislative procedure?
A private member’s bill is a type of non-government bill. The one presenting a private member’s Bill is not a government frontbencher, but an ordinary MP. A private member’s bill being presented by an ordinary MP is not a government’s bill either.