MPs failing to put nation and people first, say lawyers

Dominic Puthucheary

(The Malaysian Insider) – Instead of fulfilling their oath to serve the electorate, members of parliament have abdicated their responsibilities to their political masters, constitutional lawyers said, warning that the nation and its people will ultimately suffer if the lawmakers failed to perform their duties.

They said it appeared that members of the Dewan Rakyat, especially Barisan Nasional MPs, mechanically administered their oaths to discharge their duties, including protecting the Federal Constitution.

Senior lawyer Datuk Dominic Puthucheary (pic) said the Dewan Rakyat has failed to play its constitutional role because political parties have taken control of the house, and turned into a “Dewan Parti”.

“Representatives to the Dewan Rakyat are elected by voters but the elected have given their loyalty to political leaders and the august body has become a Dewan Parti,” said the 82-year-old who was a one-term Nibong Tebal MP from 1995.

He said most elected representatives never understood their role or bothered to find out what they were expected to do as prescribed in the national charter.

“For many, it is a career and not to perform a public duty as lawmaker,” he said in response to an impassioned speech by Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah to his fellow members to put the nation and the people above anyone else.

The 222 Dewan Rakyat members begin sitting today for a month to discuss the affairs of the state.

In the March sitting, when debating the royal address, the Kelantan prince, fondly known as Ku Li, said Malaysia was in a state of political and economic gridlock and this could only be unlocked by Dewan Rakyat members.

He expressed concern over the mounting debt incurred by 1Malaysia Development Berhad as a result of obtaining unauthorised loans as well as the implementation of the goods and services tax.

“We are facing an unprecedented challenge to fulfil the pledge to serve the nation and the people.

“This is because the truth is that the power of the Dewan Rakyat has constitutionally shifted to the leadership of the political party,” said the 77-year-old Razaleigh, who has been elected without fail since 1974.

“The concentration of that power in any individual is unconstitutional. That is not what constitutional democracy is about.

“Therefore, the members of the Dewan Rakyat have to decide whether they want to fulfil the pledge that they have taken or abdicate their responsibility to a power outside the Dewan Rakyat,” said Razaleigh.

Dominic said there was no doubt that Razaleigh hit the nail right on the head in his speech but admitted there needed to be a revamp of the entire system of governance.

He also expressed dismay over the parochial attitude of representatives from Sabah and Sarawak who were more concerned about their territories and interests, instead of national issues.

“They do not see the importance of having a competent prime minister for the nation,” he added.

Lawyer R. Kenghadharan said any parliamentarian who was unable to adhere to noble values was a misfit and should vacate office as he or she was a gross liability to the democratic process.

“Such incompetent parliamentarians will seriously damage the democratic process and governance and we have many of those.”