Azalina: MoU should be more concrete, include more reforms

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The memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the government and Pakatan Harapan (PH) should have been tighter and more concrete to put in place further structural changes, Azalina Othman Said said.

Speaking at an online forum entitled MoU – A Pathway to Transformation and Stability? organised by Asli, the former deputy speaker said she had expected more reforms to be included in the MoU.

“With the MoU, I wanted to see something more. I would have expected something more tight and more concrete because that would really have a different matured platform of parliamentarians,” she said at the forum held on Zoom yesterday.

On September 13, the federal government and PH signed a MoU for political stability and transformation.

The MoU has six thrusts, namely, strengthening the country’s Covid-19 plan, institutional transformation, parliamentary reforms, judiciary independence, the Malaysia Agreement 1963, and the formation of the steering committee.

Under the agreed deal, the government has promised to deliver three major reforms by the middle of next year, before the next or fifth session of Parliament.

They are the anti-party hopping law, the implementation of Undi18 and automatic voter registration, the imposition of a 10-year term limit on the prime minister’s tenure.

Various parliamentary reforms are also in the agreement, like the Parliamentary Services bills, which seek to restore Parliament’s autonomy in its finances and administration.

There was also no fixed structure as to when the reforms that were agreed upon will be implemented, the Pengerang MP said.

“For me when you talk about a lot of changes, especially on parliamentary reform, I am so excited. I don’t have to put my recall bill as a private member’s bill knowing the fact that the government already has the anti-hopping law on the table.

“But when I checked the order paper, there was no anti-hopping law. Between now and until the law comes out, anyone can jump. What ceasefire are we looking at, when there is no permanency?” she asked.

Azalina said she had hoped that the constituency development fund and the decentralisation of the federal government would have been brought up in the MoU.

“Have a constitutional development fund and we can use this sitting of Parliament to interest all the reforms that were suggested.

“I believe it should be a legal structure by an act of Parliament, so it doesn’t matter who is governing.

Seth Akmal/TMI

“When you brought this up (MoU), I thought that you would have touched on decentralisation. You know, for areas outside Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya is holding every decision.

“We need to look at it seriously. Covid showed us that we need this because one policy doesn’t fit all, what with the allegations of ‘kerajaan gagal’ (failed government).”

She also questioned why the MPs were not asked to sign the MoU so that it was fair and didn’t only involve the political blocs.

In response to Azalina, Seremban MP Anthony Loke who was instrumental in the negotiation and the drafting of the MoU, said there were a lot of demands put on the table but, ultimately, there was only so much both parties could agree on.

“In the process of negotiations, we put up a lot more demands. There are two parties, and we cannot achieve all at one go.

“Some demands were not agreeable by the government. But if we don’t get 100%, do we call it off? We are taking a moderate approach, if there are achievements, the trust of the public will be higher. If we can go further, this is a dynamic document, more reforms can come,” he said.

Loke also clarified that the MoU does not end on July 31, but rather that it is a stipulation that a general election cannot be called by that date.

“This is not just a 10-month MoU, July 31 is not a deadline. It’s the minimum date to call for an election. There is nothing to stop them from dragging on until the end of the term in June 2023, we have no problem.

“We want a commitment not to dissolve before July 2022. It’s the prime minister’s power to dissolve parliament after that.” – TMI