PRESS RELEASE: I will not submit parliamentary questions in protest against oppressive procedures in the BN-majority Dewan Rakyat
I am the Member of Parliament for Padang Serai. I refer to the notice issued to all MPs by the Dewan Rakyat Secretary directing that MPs submit parliamentary questions by 3rd September 2013 for the session beginning 23rd Seprember 2013. This excessively long advance notice for MPs questions is a result of the undemocratic and inefffective way in which the BN is running Dewan Rakyat proceedings. The BN has thus far adamantly refused to amend Standing Order 22 which states that MPs questions must be submitted at least 14 working days before the meeting of parliament. As a result, questions submitted by MPs are not topical, stale and rendered ineffective as a method of holding Ministers to account for their actions.
It is clearly the intention of the BN government to maintain the oppressive Standing Order 22 in order to escape effective scrutiny of BN Minister's action by the Opposition in the Dewan Rakyat. In a written reply to me during the last meeting of Parliament, Minister Shahidan Kassim baselessly insisted that the 14 working days period was necessary.
In the UK House of Commons only 3 days notice is required before the day on which the question is to be asked. Whereas in the Australian House of Representatives and the Canadian House of Commons, MPs can ask questions of Ministers without any advance notice. The BN's practice in the Dewan Rakyat is thus inconsistent and contradictory to the trend in other Commonwealth legislatures.
The failure to reduce the notice period for questions must be seen in the context of the BN's deliberate refusal to institute much-needed democratic reforms to the conduct of business in the Dewan Rakyat. Unlike other Commonwealth legislatures, the BN refuses to allow time for opposition bills, motions and other business. Under the BN, our Dewan Rakyat has been reduced to a Mugabe-style parliament.
I cannot continue to pretend that the Rakyat's interests are being protected under this ineffective method of questioning Ministers in the Dewan. As an act of protest, and to focus national attention on the need for urgent reforms of parliament, I will not submit questions to the Dewan Rakyat for the coming meeting of the Dewan. Instead, I have yesterday submitted a motion to the Dewan Rakyat calling for the amendment of Standing Order 22 to reduce the notice period to 2 days. I further call upon the Prime Minister to immediately consult with the Opposition Leader to bring about urgent reforms of the Dewan Rakyat during the coming meeting of parliament.
VICE PRESIDENT, KEADILAN
MP PADANG SERAI
30 August 2013