Legislature needs parliamentary reform and other measures to be truly independent, says senator

Senator Robert Lau

KUCHING, Oct 26: The re-introduction of a law similar to the repealed Parliamentary Services Act 1963 will enable the legislature to regain independence from the executive and judiciary, giving rise to the notion of check-and-balance in a parliamentary democracy system.

Senator Robert Lau Hui Yew said however, more is needed for the legislature to be a truly independent body such as the setting up of a select committee.

“At the same time, the legislature has to be more active in the law-making process and not just at the late stage to pass or not to pass the law.

“The select committee must be able to be involved from the outset, at the proposal and drafting stage. The select committee should engage key stakeholders in the law-making process as it must be acknowledged that Members of Parliament (MPs) are usually not experts in most areas of the law.

“The election process is not designed to choose the right expertise but the right people who are able to make good decisions. MPs play the role of management,” he said when debating a motion on parliamentary reform in Parliament in Kuala Lumpur today.

He also took note that Article 45(4)(a) and (b) of the Federal Constitution allows for the number of senators representing each State to be increased from two to three.

It went further to provide for these senators to be elected directly by the voters and not by the state legislative body as is the case currently for the two senators from each state.

“In principle, election is a better process when public office is concerned. However, there has to be a strong caveat here. One has to consider the purpose of and the role played by the Senate.

“At present, the real power lies in the House of Representatives as they go to form the executive who is the body in real control,” he said.

Lau believed that there are merits to appoint members to the Senate and competitive elections will produce career politicians and not necessarily represent the diversity in society.

“Article 45(2) is designed to bring in a wide range of representatives into the Senate. It mentions ‘persons who in his opinion have rendered distinguished public service or have achieved distinction in the profession, commerce, industry, agriculture, cultural activities or social service or are representative of racial minorities or are capable of representing the interest of aborigines’.

“What we need to do is to have a system that can best filter and recommend who are these people that can come under Article 45(2).

“Currently, that power again rest with political leaders in the executive arm. That is why most appointees are from political backgrounds,” he pointed out. — DayakDaily