After outburst, Pandikar outlines reform agenda

After lashing out at the government for allegedly interfering in parliamentary affairs, Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia today carried through with his promise for parliamentary reforms.

Malaysiakini learnt that Pandikar outlined four reform goals including the revival of the Parliamentary Service Act (PSA) and the introduction of an hour of ‘Minister’s Question Time’ every week where MPs can ask questions to ministers without prior notice.

He did so while chairing the House Committee meeting today.

The PSA allows Parliament to hire its own staff and handle its own finances to ensure its independence but the law was repealed in 1992.

The ‘Minister’s Question Time’ slot will address MPs’ complaint that they must submit question more than a month ahead, rendering the subsequent replies outdated or overtaken by events.

Another proposal is for the introduction of a second chamber where matters and motions, that do not need the House to decide on, can be raised.

The fourth proposal is for the creation of permanent select committees such as law reform committee and budget committee.

When contacted, DAP’s Seremban MP Anthony Loke (photo), a member of the House Committee, confirmed this to Malaysiakini.

He added the four reforms were personally outlined by Pandikar.

“We commend him for his efforts and we fully support his reform agenda,” said Loke, adding that MPs, particularly from the opposition, have been calling for these reforms for a long time to no avail.

Speaker’s weight on reforms

With the speaker now on the same page, Loke said he is optimistic the proposed changes can be instituted.

“This time, the speaker seems very serious about it and coming from the speaker, there is a lot of weight on these proposals.

“I am sure that the speaker is also in communication with the government,” said Loke.

Loke said the House Committee has set a target of six months for the government to table this motion for reforms in Parliament.

He added the House Committee will reconvene on June 8 to hammer out the details for these reforms and will also get feedback on the proposals.

Last Tuesday, Pandikar admitted in a press conference that he had tendered his resignation as speaker but did not follow through after Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak (photo) promised his concerns will be addressed.

An upset Pandikar also lashed out at Minister in the Prime Minister Shahidan Kassim, who is in charge of parliamentary affairs, asking that the latter’s position be abolished to avoid interference.

In that press conference, Pandikar declared that he would resign if the changes he wanted were not instituted.

He was forced to issue the public statement after former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad revealed that Pandikar confided that he submitted his resignation letter. – Malaysiakini

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