Reforms in Parliament Taking Shape

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Speaker looking into 15 areas for reforms.

Although the Dewan Rakyat has only sat for three weeks, the Speaker has already taken the first step in reforming Parliament.

In his bid to make Parliament more efficient, Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, on July 25, had referred an emergency motion to debate the contentious issue of Israel’s Nation State Law, in the Special Chamber.

This was the first time that an emergency motion under Standing Order 18 since it came into force in 2016, was referred to the Special Chamber.

“I looked at the motion…it was specific and of public importance as the issue was internationally recognised as something troubling, so I allowed it,” he said in an interview with The Star on Friday.

“But I think, maybe to tweak it a little bit, there should be supplementary (questions).

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

“Right now, they come out and they read out (the answer), sometimes it is not current,” he said, noting that lawmakers are unable to ask supplementary questions in the Special Chamber.

Another reform Mohamad Ariff is looking at is introducing a Prime Minister’s Question Time that was mooted by the previous government.

Currently, there is a 30-minute Ministerial Question Time every Tuesday and Thursday before the actual Question and Answer Time takes place.

The Prime Minister’s Question Time is a concept that the House of Commons in the United Kingdom practises.

Mohamad Ariff said he is looking into 15 areas for reforms.

Apart from the establishment of select committees, other priorities include having a minimum of a 100 days of Dewan Rakyat sittings, Parliamentary Caucasus, beefing up research facilities for lawmakers and restoring the Parliamentary Service Act 1963.

The Parliamentary Services Act was repealed in 1992 and there have been several attempts to reintroduce it.

Several lawmakers are now urging the legislation to be re-instated.

“I have read the papers presented so far. In principle, it has been accepted so it is just to follow up to bring back the Act.

“There will be some tweaking again which needs to be done and some further discussion but it’s not as if we are going to start from scratch,” he said adding that it was also part of the Pakatan Harapan election manifesto. – The Star