A transformed country, but an untransformed Parliament



The Malaysian Insider 

On the day Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak celebrated three years in office with the satisfaction of a plan in progress, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia showed the shallowness of the transformation towards a developed nation by 2020.

Najib can be proud of achievements under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and Government Transformation Programme (GTP), but in terms of a Political Transformation Programme (PTP), he can follow other Malaysians and frown at the tyranny of power shown by the Speaker yesterday.

Pandikar Amin dismissed the requests for a debate on a minority report from opposition members who wanted to add to the final report from the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Electoral Reforms. And he tried to chase them out of the House for disputing his decision to disallow the debate.

Why the fear of a debate on a minority report? The entire report has all the recommendations and the discussion to reform the electoral process in Malaysia. So, why not a report that details the arguments for recommendations that did not make its way to the final report?

The Speaker is the final arbiter in the House. And with that power, comes great responsibility. Just like the prime minister who has a huge responsibility to fulfil promises made when taking the job.

If Najib can do his best, considering the circumstances that have snowballed over the years, why can’t Pandikar Amin do a better job? After all, what is the House about? To debate laws and issues for the betterment of Malaysia, is it not?

Is there any wonder that civil society has given up on legislative processes and instead takes to the street? This was what happened in the years preceding Merdeka with the people opposed to the idea of a Malayan Union, after the authorities refused to listen to their concerns.

We now have a duly-elected Parliament. We have members of parliament who sat in a parliamentary panel and who have issues with the final report on electoral reforms that the prime minister has promised will happen after a discussion in Parliament.

But the entire idea stumbles and trips on the last leg of its journey through Parliament. The Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs were prepared to debate and show their political foes, Pakatan Rakyat (PR), that the report and recommendations are enough. PR MPs were ready to debate in Parliament rather than take to the streets.

But the Speaker decided otherwise – even though his Deputy was chairing the debate then — because he can. All said and done, this is a disappointing end to the PSC that reflects Najib’s commitment to “the days of government knows best is over”.

Just when you think BN can renew itself for the future, you get throwbacks from the past tying it down. Pity, this has become a farce.