PARLIAMENT | The Dewan Rakyat will soon establish six bi-partisan select committees that will study bills before they are tabled.
This was decided during the inaugural House Committee meeting yesterday for the 14th Parliament.
The previous Parliament had only five committees, including the House Committee and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), none of which were specifically designed to study bills.
Once formalised, a permanent select committee system could potentially reduce allegations that the Dewan Rakyat was a rubber stamp where bills are allowed to be bulldozed.
According to the press handout, the committees will be allowed to hold hearings where they can study bills and call experts to provide input.
The House Committee had initially proposed 18 committees, but subsequently the Rights Select Committee and the Gender Equality Select Committee were later merged into one.
However, for now, only six committees would be formed.
The six subject areas are: Consideration of Bills, Budget, Home and Defence, Rights and Gender Equality, Federal-State Relations, and, Major Public Appointments.
The Public Service Department and the Finance Ministry will be tasked with arranging for the resources and staff needed to support these committees.
In many democracies that use the Westminster system, select committees are staffed with researchers and funded to assist the committees.
All committees will have seven members and their tenure will last either two years or two terms.
A minister from the Prime Minister's Department will table the report to the House for consideration to be passed today.
According to Item 16 of Pakatan Harapan's election manifesto, the coalition will institutionalise the select committee system "to monitor every ministry, with the power to call ministers and senior officials to testify".
In an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini last month, Dewan Rakyat speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof said he would implement a select committee system to enhance parliamentary oversight on the executive.
“Certain things are best achieved at the select committee level.
“(The committee can) bring in people with expertise in the subject matter, who are interested in the subject matter,” Mohamad Ariff said.
Under the Najib Abdul Razak administration, only two select committees were formed - the committee on electoral reform in 2011 and the committee on the Lynas Advance Material Plant in 2012. Both were not designed to study bills.