MP SPEAKS | The first hundred days of the new Pakatan Harapan government in Putrajaya will be exciting days for the country, for Malaysians must stop the trajectory towards a failed, rogue and kleptocratic state and reset nation-building directions and policies to allow Malaysians not only to dare to dream, but to achieve, the Malaysian Dream to be a world top-class nation.
The Pakatan Harapan federal government, the first government in Malaysia which is not dominated by Umno to serve Umno cronies and kleptocrats, will start on an ambitious house-cleaning programme to optimise and leverage on Malaysia's assets - vast human talent; wealth of diversity of races, religions, languages and cultures; great natural resource - based on the unity and harmony of the citizens of Malaysia.
Pakatan Harapan has announced that in the first 100 days in power in Putrajaya, it will put in place 10 major policy changes, prioritising the resolution of the people's economic woes and the reform public institutions and policies.
High on the agenda of a Pakatan Harapan government in Putrajaya will be the reform of key national institutions to resolve major scandals, whether 1MDB, Felda, Mara or Tabung Haji.
Sixty years of continuous rule by the Umno-led administrations have resulted in the elimination of all independent institutions, and the collapse of checks and balances that underpin a genuine democratic system of government.
Pillars of good governance like separation of powers, rule of law and the independence of the judiciary have been replaced by an over-centralisation of power in the office of the prime minister.
The executive has assumed awesome powers to the detriment of other branches of government.
Perhaps no area of Malaysian public life has suffered greater breakdown than the administration of justice in its broadest sense.
Thus, the judiciary, the Attorney General's Chambers, the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) require radical overhauling and reform.
Hence, law reform is a vital priority for a newly elected Pakatan Harapan government.
The importance of such reform cannot be overstated. Leading the battle for legal reform must be a reforming attorney general, to one who enjoys the full confidence and support of a reforming prime minister at the head of a government taking office with a clear mandate from the electorate for real change.
Consequently, the first task for the new government is to appoint an attorney-general (AG) with the widest terms of reference to clean up the legal system of all the debris collected over six decades.
In other words, radical reform.
The chosen candidate for this critical position must have the highest integrity and honesty, and possess a mastery over constitutional law. He or she must have an established reputation as an outstanding lawyer, with substantial court experience.
The new AG must immediately take every step to return to the people the full measure of their fundamental rights that were promised to them at Merdeka in Part II of the federal constitution, but were taken away, step by step, by successive Umno administrations.
The best method of defending, protecting and preserving the constitution is by giving practical effect to the full meaning and content of civil liberties guaranteed in the federal constitution.
Much of the curtailment to the enjoyment of such rights were by acts of Parliament and executive decisions, which a new government elected on a simple majority in the Dewan Rakyat, can repeal or revoke.
In other words, even if constitutional amendments cannot be passed because a new government may not have the necessary two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat, the new government can speedily enhance the liberties of Malaysians by other means under its control.
The new AG must draft a "Great Repeal Bill" which would be a short, simple bill listing out numerous acts of Parliament that have either, totally or in part, to be repealed because they contain provisions that take away or seriously impinge on the enjoyment of civil liberties.
These acts would include: -
- Peaceful Assembly Act, 2012;
- Communications & Multimedia Act, 1998;
- Trade Union Act, 1959;
- Immigration Act, 1959;
- Societies Act, 1966;
- Police Act, 1967;
- Universities and University Colleges Act, 1971;
- Official Secrets Act, 1972;
- Sedition Act, 1972;
- Printing Presses and Publicity Act, 1984; and
- Anti-Fake News Act 2018.
LIM KIT SIANG is DAP parliamentary leader and Gelang Patah MP.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.