KOTA KINABALU: The federal government must learn to respect parliamentary democracy, said former de facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong.
He said this was because the Perikatan Nasional-Gabungan Parti Sarawak federal administration is widely seen to be not practicising these values since coming to power in March.
Liew made the call in conjunction with the International Day of Parliamentarism today.
“In conjunction with the purpose of this significant day, the PN-GPS government must learn to respect parliamentary democracy and what it stands for,” he said in a statement.
He said its undemocractic way was clear on May 18 when the government convened a one-day only parliament sitting to evade former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s motion of no confidence.
Besides that, they also prevented MPs from debating or even speaking and barred the free press from accessing parliament, he added.
“And now, they are attempting to remove the speaker and deputy speaker. These are all unprecedented dark spots in Malaysia’s parliamentary history that should never repeat.”
Liew said these acts show the government’s complete contempt for separation of powers and respect for parliament as an independent institution.
“May we see true parliamentary independence in the near future,” he said.
“As a people, we must continue to mature in our democracy and strengthen our resolve to become a developed nation signaling hope for a world now striding in unprecedented times.
“I entirely believe we can. And we will. So let us begin.”
Towards this end, Liew said to ensure there is no abuse of power by the executive and to breathe life into the doctrine of separation of powers, the legislature must be allowed to scrutinise the government.
“It must examine their actions and decisions and be empowered to call upon members of the administration to testify before parliamentary committees as and when necessary.
“This holds the government accountable to the people through their elected representatives.”
Liew who is Warisan permanent chairman was satisfied that the then Pakatan Harapan government had seen to this during his tenure as the Minister in charge of Parliamentary Affairs in the Prime Minister’s Department.
He said strengthening parliamentary democracy in Malaysia and parliament itself was the top priority.
He added that many special select parliamentary committees were established to oversee the various federal ministries in the country.
“This was unprecedented in Malaysia,” he said.
A dedicated special select committee was even established to oversee and examine major public appointments by the government such as the Inspector-General of Police, Elections Commission Chairman and Director-General of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Director-General, among others.
Additionally, a fiercely independent and impartial speaker in Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Yusof was also appointed to the Dewan Rakyat, Liew added.
“He presided with equal treatment to both sides of the divide in accordance with the provisions of the Standing Orders.
“This was known early on itself when a government MP was in fact the first to be ejected from the Dewan Rakyat just after the 14th general election,” he said.
He said all their efforts to strengthen parliament as an independent institution had gained international recognition, resulting in Malaysia rising to its best position ever in the Global Democracy Index 2019 by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Towards this end, Liew hoped the executive will allow the Dewan Rakyat to remain independent, saying there must be no interference in its noble role to scrutinise and hold the government accountable.
“To ensure this, I call on the Prime Minister to ensure that the Parliamentary Services Commission is introduced as proposed by Pakatan Harapan so parliament is capable of managing its own administration, staffing and financing and may truly be free of the executive,” he said.