KUCHING, Sept 3 — Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said today he will submit to the Cabinet a report on proposals to modernise Malaysia’s Parliament.
He said that in his discussion with the Senate President Senator Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim and Parliament Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun yesterday, both men welcomed the proposals and stated their readiness to lead the transformation of Parliament.
“In line with this, we have also agreed to form a joint-committee between Parliament and my ministry to ensure that the various proposals discussed can be executed swiftly,” Wan Junaidi said in a statement.
He said the three main issues discussed were on reviving or re-introducing the Parliamentary Service Act to give independence to Parliament.
“This move is consistent with what have been taken by other parliaments internationally,” he said, adding that this is based on Article 62 (Parliamentary procedure) and Article 63 (Privileges of Parliament) under the Federal Constitution.
He said the other proposal is to create a new law to replace the Houses of Parliament Privilege and Powers Act.
“The current Act must be replaced because it was created in 1952, under the 1952 parliamentary environment.
“It was not even a parliamentary environment, as it was created while Malaya was under Federal Agreement 1948,” Wan Junaidi said.
He added the existing Act was obsolete and no longer suitable for the political landscape in the 21st century.
“Instead of amending it, it is better to come up with a new Act of Parliament which is more comprehensive, inclusive and complete.
“This is to also follow what is currently being made by most commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and India,” the Santubong Member of Parliament said.
He said the discussions with Rais and Azhar were also on more amendments to the present Standing Orders and Rules of Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara.
“This move is crucial in order to suit the proposed new Act of Parliament and the re-introduction of the Parliamentary Service Act.
“While there have been amendments made from time to time, many of these rules are a relic of the Federal Agreement 1948, which was only amended in 1956 for the independence of Malaya in 1957,” he said.
He added it was further amended in 1959 to create a basis for the Standing Orders and Rules of Dewan Negara and Dewan Rakyat.
However, he said many of these rules are not able to accommodate many modern things in parliament.
He added many Commonwealth countries have been making the necessary amendments to their rules and procedure in parliament to suit current time and in Malaysia’s quest for parliamentary reforms, it is crucial to make more changes and improvements to the set of rules that may no longer be suitable in today’s environment.
“The amendments made should also focus on efforts to empower the Parliamentary committee,” he added.