Before Malaysia can hope for free and fair elections, it needs a robust and effective Parliamentary system. The failure of the Public Accounts Committee in efficiently investigating the claims of corruption related to the 1MDB scandal shows the weaknesses in Parliament. There is no allocation for Prime Minister’s Question Time in Parliament, no official recognition of a Shadow Cabinet and no time set aside for Opposition Business. The Speaker was not even chosen from the ranks of the Members of Parliament. Malaysia only one Parliament Committee that scrutinises the work of the Executive, the PAC. Other countries, like Indonesia, Cambodia and even Myanmar, has many different Committees to oversee the work of different ministries. No committees are regularly tasked with reviewing bills, motions or petitions. It results in legislation being handed down by the executive and rubber stamped by both Houses of Parliament, with minimal scrutiny and few amendments. BERSIH 2.0 is part of a group of organisations called the Coalition for Parliamentary Reform, which produced a paper on parliamentary reforms (PDF English/BM). These reforms are:
- Reintroduction of the Parliamentary Services Act to return independence to Parliament’s administration.
- Establishment of permanent Parliamentary Select Committees to strengthen oversight functions of Parliament.
- Reforming agenda-setting in Parliament, including amending the Standing Orders to set aside time for Opposition Business and Question Time, and give recognition to a Shadow Cabinet.
- Scrapping the system of constituency development funds for MPs and replacing it with allocations for MPs’ offices and administrative needs.
BERSIH 2.0 is now in planning a program to monitor the performance of Members of Parliament. This project is aimed at raising public awareness on the role of MPs and making MPs more accountable to their constituents.