PROGRESSIVE think-tank, the Research for Social Advancement (REFSA), has called for empowerment of the Senate as one of the main components of the nation’s Parliamentary Transformation Agenda.
In addition to welcoming the suggestions outlined by Dewan Rakyat speaker Datuk Johari Abdul and Dewan Negara speaker Tan Sri Rais Yatim in their Memorandum on Parliamentary Transformation presented to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Dec 29, REFSA proposes that both parties closely consider implementing Senate elections to level up the status of the august Houses of Parliament as the highest decision-making body.
“Senate reforms have the potential to increase the influence of the electorate in electing a Senator which represents their interests in the Parliament, especially for states which are considered as under-represented such as Sabah and Sarawak,” opined the think tank in a media statement.
“The reforms, should they be implemented in stages, will raise the confidence of the rakyat towards the Senate and deviate from the notion of it being merely a ‘rubber stamp’.”
According to REFSA, these efforts are in line with the spirit of the Federal Constitution and the parliamentary democracy system which champions the voice of the rakyat to improve their lives and livelihoods while taking Malaysia further in the global scale.
Additionally, the repealed Parliamentary Services Act 1963 needs to be re-enacted to fit with the modern narrative Malaysia is facing now.
“The presence of the Parliamentary Services Act allows for Parliament the autonomy to determine its own formulation of policies and be financially independent from the executive,” the think tank pointed out.
“This will ensure independent governance as well. The reforms which the Parliamentary Services Act 1963 can offer are tremendous and will definitely enhance the role of Parliament in checking the exercise of power by the executive.”
REFSA further noted that the empowerment of state legislative bodies should happen concurrently, in tandem with the parliamentary transformation agenda at the federal level.
It stressed that the opportunity for synergy in the Conference of the Speakers of Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies of Malaysia organised annually in executing the agenda for parliamentary reforms should be capitalised on.
“REFSA sincerely hopes that the Malaysian Parliament and the newly-formed unity government can continue the commitment to hold engagement sessions and advocacy programmes with the relevant stakeholders to ascertain views on the preservation of our parliamentary democracy system,” stated the think tank.
“This can increase the awareness of the rakyat regarding the importance of the role of Parliament particularly towards the youths.” – Dec 31, 2022