Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Parliamentary quorum should be 60% (not 11.7% as it is now) & Abolish Bloc Voting - Let MPs have the freedom of opinion

Well the people elect their representatives to Parliament - the Members of Parliament...but many MPs are not there most of the time in Parliament. Hence, the people do not have any real representative in the Dewan Rakyat (Parliament Lower House)... most of the time.

Odd too that MPs get and accept appointments as High Commissioners/Ambassadors - are we that short of good qualified people? Or rather the question should be is the UMNO-led BN so short of 'good' people? The Rompin MP, I believe is the US Ambassador is Jamaludin Jarjis, the Rompin MP - Wonder how he can serve his constituents in Rompin. Wonder how he can attend Parliamentary session. He should resign as MP - and let the people of Rompin elect a new MP.

Attendance in Parliament is pathetic on most days. People should just go visit Parliament, and sit in the public gallery and watch the proceeding. [There is a dress code - men (long sleeves with tie & p-ants), women (formal attire - no jeans, etc...)]. There are usually so few MPs from the UMNO-led BN, and now we are told that the quorum in the Dewan Rakyat is only 26 MPs (and that was the quorum apparently since pre-independence(1955), when the total number of MPs was only 52.

The quorum was thus 50% of the total MPs, but the UMNO-led BN (before the UMNO-led Alliance) was not interested in changing the quorum despite increasing the number of MPs, which stands at 222 today. Reasonably, the quorum should be 111 - but they never changed the quorum, and it apparently still stands at 26. Why? Because maybe the UMNO-led BN did not think democracy was very important ....did not think attendance in Parliament was very important...did not think Parliament was very important.

That explains also why reports of Parliamentary proceedings are given so little coverage by the print and electronic media. All the debates...and objections get voiced out in Parliament but then the media does not report this - and the people are kept in the dark. 

But, they have TV Parliament Reports - well, these are 'censored' ...selected - so that all the audience see is what the government wants you to see. You really do not see the views of the opposition, do you. Live telecasts - again, most of the time, it is interviews and stuff. Really, the government should just have TV4 - which will be broadcasting live proceedings from Parliament (or when Parliament is not sitting, maybe proceedings from State Legislative Assemblies). There is no need for commentaries...and analysis (or interviews) during sessions - all those could be done during the 'lunch breaks' or after the sitting for the day. 

Increase the quorum to at least 60% of the total number of MPs ...

Live telecast (without interruption) for the full parliamentary proceedings.

Bloc voting - this must definitely go, and MPs should be allowed to vote freely based on their own stand. The 'whip' should be used only in certain special circumstances - not always. This applies to both BN and Opposition MPs.

PETALING JAYA: The Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club (BNBBC) is proposing to abolish the quorum and bloc voting as part of its recommendations on parliamentary re-form.

Its deputy chairman Datuk Abd Rahman Dahlan said a committee was looking through the recommendations and working closely with Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.

“We have discussed the matter in general. It’s an ongoing process,” he told The Star yesterday.

“We have talked a lot about the Dewan Rakyat quorum since Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad’s time as BNBBC chairman.”

He said the quorum — 26 MPs or part of the 52 seats in the 1955 legislative election — had remained unchanged since Merdeka.

The Dewan Rakyat now has 222 seats with Barisan controlling 137 seats.

The proposal became crucial after Budget 2010 was nearly defeated at its third reading last Dec 14 when more than half of the Barisan parliamentarians were absent when the vote was called.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had to rush to Parliament House that night to guarantee that the Budget was approved.

The Budget was passed with 66 votes coming from Barisan while 63 MPs from the Oppositions who were present blocked its approval.

Rahman said the committee was also looking at other recommendations to reform Parliament, including having more researchers for MPs and offices for them to conduct meetings.

“Parliament can be in session for months and the meetings can stretch for long hours. Some MPs have appointments, yet there is no specific area for them to hold meetings,” he added.
He said the committee had proposed that one of the halls be converted into offices for MPs to hold meetings.

The committee, he said, had also discussed introducing a national internship programme whereby undergraduates could be attached to MPs as interns.

Hopefully, he said the Higher Education Ministry would look into the proposal as it could be a way to expose undergraduates to how Parliament works. - Star, 17/2/2010, MPs: Get rid of quorum

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