Senate Reform Working Committee on working visit to Sarawak

Asfia (right) and Yusmadi (left) about to start the closed-door meeting at the DUN Building this morning (Feb 21, 2019).

By Nigel Edgar

KUCHING, Feb 21: The Senate Reform Working Committee (SRWC) is looking into restoring the role of Dewan Negara or the Upper House of Parliament as well as the role of senators for the benefit of the people and country.

SRWC chairman Senator Mohd Yusmadi Mohd Yusoff said the committee wanted to ensure the Dewan Negara stayed relevant and that senators could function effectively for the people.

“This is because according to the various feedback we have been getting, a lot of people did not understand or misunderstood the role of the Dewan Negara.

“That is the main challenge that we have to fix now,” he told reporters after leading a delegation, including 11 senators, to the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Complex here this morning for a working visit.

Mohd Yusmadi Mohd Yusoff

The Sarawak DUN is the first state legislature he and the delegates visited as part of a nationwide tour.

They later held a closed-door meeting with Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar, Deputy Speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala and several assemblymen.

Meanwhile, an issue the committee aims to resolve was how to improve the Dewan Negara’s structure and support staff. This is because until today there are many staff who are still under contract.

The committee is also considering reintroducing the Parliamentary Service Act, which was repealed in 1992.

Other issues include what Dewan Negara president Tan Sri SA Vigneswaran had proposed earlier this week, which is to extend the senator’s term from its current three years.

Asfia (seated third from right) and Yusmadi (seated second from right) speaking to reporters after the meeting concluded this afternoon (Feb 21, 2019).

“We are actually in the midst of preparing reports for the Parliamentary Select Committee for Parliamentary Reform and Good Governance led by chairman Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“We have to prepare this initial report before March, and so far, we’ve been getting very good support from Minister in Charge of Parliamentary Affairs, Datuk Liew Vui Keong,” said Yusmadi.

Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar

Meanwhile, Asfia told reporters after the meeting that Sarawak DUN was unicameral, meaning it only has one DUN and no Lower House or Upper House, unlike the bicameral Parliament of Malaysia.

“This meeting provides an exchange of views with their experience, wisdom and knowledge with ours. And this is the beginning of good cooperation with the Upper House.” — DayakDaily