KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 8): The re-enactment of the Parliamentary Services Act and upgrading of the Parliamentary Select Committee to empower Parliament are on the key agenda for reform by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Johari Abdul.
Johari, who was elected to the post on Dec 19 last year, said he, along with Dewan Negara President Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim, had met with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to discuss the proposed law.
"The PM himself is supportive of this. The draft [of the Bill] has been sent to the Attorney General's Chambers, and will subsequently be sent to the Prime Minister's Department for fine-tuning in all aspects, including finance, legislation and so on," he told Bernama.
The Parliamentary Services Act was first enacted in 1963, just a few months before the formation of Malaysia. It allowed Parliament to act as a truly independent body, running its own affairs, selecting its staff and controlling its expenditure.
However, it was repealed in 1992.
Johari, who has about 15 years of experience as a Member of Parliament, also wants to strengthen the role of the Special Select Committee towards strengthening the role of ministries.
He said the committee, which is made up of government and opposition MPs, can make recommendations and reports for the check-and-balance process and deal with issues that crop up at the ministries concerned.
"This proposal is important because the minister or the ministry may overlook some matters, but the [Special Select] Committee will hold discussions and highlight the proposal as well as prepare reports," he said.
Apart from that, Johari said the Houses of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Act 1952 is also expected to be improved, including raising the maximum fine from RM1,000 to RM10,000 to be imposed on members of the House who violate the stipulated rules in a move to create a first-class Parliament.
He said that under the law, a fine can be imposed on MPs who make racist, insulting and gender-discriminatory statements, and they can also be suspended from Parliament.
Meanwhile, Johari said the First Meeting of the Second Session of the 15th Parliament is scheduled to start on Feb 13, with the opening ceremony by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.
This will then be followed by the debate on the royal address, which will be for five days.
"I expect all MPs to participate in the debate on the royal address actively, [but] by not politicising it because the address by His Majesty indicates the direction of the country, so we should contribute to the journey [of the country] instead of politicising the situation," he said.
Meanwhile, Anwar, who is also the finance minister, is scheduled to table the new Budget 2023 in the Dewan Rakyat on Feb 24.
Johari, on the other hand, also reminded members of the House to carry out their responsibilities by engaging in discussions on issues of the people and the country.
"If you are paid an allowance or a salary and you don't attend [the Parliament session], to me, it means you are earning ‘duit haram’ (illegal money)," he said.
The Dewan Rakyat sitting will be for 29 days until March 30.
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PM's Q&A session in first meeting of second session of 15th Parliament, says Speaker