Parliamentary Caucus for Multi-Party Democracy formed

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Jointly led by Azalina Othman and Maria Chin, with Bersih as the secretariat.

The Parliamentary Caucus for Multi-Party Democracy was officially formed today to promote inter-party dialogues, engagement and participation in issues on institutional reforms, especially the Dewan Rakyat.

The caucus is jointly led by conveners Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (BN-Pengerang) and Maria Chin Abdullah (PH-Petaling Jaya), while the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) will act as the secretariat.

Mukhriz Hazim/Malaysiakini

Its members comprise Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (PH-Kulim Bandar Baharu), Datuk Hasanuddin Mohd Yunus (PH-Hulu Langat), Datuk Dr Xavier Jayakumar (Bebas-Kuala Langat), Loke Siew Fook (PH-Seremban), Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof (Bersatu-Alor Gajah), Wong Shu Qi (PH-Kluang), Datuk Seri Madius Tangau (UPKO-Tuaran), Datuk Ignatius Darell Leiking (Warisan-Penampang), Larry Sng Wei Shien (PBM-Julau) and Baru Bian (PSB-Selangau).

Azalina said the formation of the caucus was vital to foster and drive healthy and productive multi-party competition in creating better democratic practices in Malaysia.

“Most importantly, all of us MPs from both sides of the House, whether government backbenchers or opposition bench, we want to see a more level playing field in Parliament.

“… being the former Deputy Speaker (of Dewan Rakyat), I know the separation of power of the government but I think the rakyat want to see the MPs do and function fairly, regardless of which side of the bench we sit,” she told reporters at the Parliament building today.

Azalina said that as a first step, members of the caucus have agreed to look at revising the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders to improve parliamentary operations.

The Umno lawmaker said they are looking to introduce a “non-governmental business time” when Parliament is in session, to allocate time for backbenchers, the Opposition, and independent MPs to propose motions or Bills for discussion.

Azalina added that there was a slew of other parliamentary reforms the caucus hoped to introduce like digitisation of parliamentary processes, improve discussions with civil society, the media, and the public when specific issues arise geared towards strengthening Malaysia’s democratic practices.

Azalina also said the caucus would like to see improvements to the current gender imbalance in the leadership of both the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament as well as greater diversity in terms of regions and parties.

“The Caucus can bring NGOs together to lend their expertise in improving our democratic system in our country,” she said.

Meanwhile, Maria Chin said, for a start, the caucus members had agreed to review and mobilise efforts to revise the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat to improve the operations of Parliament.

Asyraf Hamzah/NST

“This includes simplifying the Private Member’s Bill and digitising Parliamentary processes, empowering Parliamentary Select Committees and holding discussions and hearing sessions with stakeholders, such as experts, civil societies, media and the general public on the agenda to empower Parliament and strengthen the Malaysian democracy,” she said.

She said the caucus hoped that the platform provided would be put to optimal use by all quarters in a bid to empower the real role of Members of Parliament as lawmakers and national policymakers, thus making the Parliament a professional and world-class institution.

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Azizan Harun has also been notified of the Caucus’ existence in an official letter dated July 18.