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What Cabinet should set up is a Ministry or Department of Parliamentary Affairs to efficiently manage the governmentís parliamentary business but not a Department of Parliament which will be the greatest threat to the doctrine of separation of powers and parliamentary independence from the Executive in nationís 48-year history
India created the Department of Parliamentary Affairs as far back as 1949 with five major functions, viz:
Over the half-century and more of Indian parliamentary democracy, the Department expanded into a Ministry, with one Minister of Cabinet rank and two Ministers-of-State, with increased functions, including:
The Ministry or Department of Parliamentary Affairs in India does not replace or usurp the Parliamentary autonomy to be responsible for its own administration.
If the Cabinet is effecting administrative changes to bring about a Ministry or Department of Parliamentary Affairs under the Minister in charge of parliamentary affairs, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, it is a welcome development if it leads to a more purposeful and meaningful inter-relations between Parliament and the Executive, e.g. the government support that could be given to transform the Malaysian Parliament into a First World Parliament.
However, if the whole idea of a new Department of Parliament is to cannibalise and remove large swathes of the existing parliamentary administration and staff to create a new entity under Nazri, it would constitute a grave threat to the doctrine of separation of powers and the principle of parliamentary autonomy from the Executive - a dangerous trend that must not be permitted.
DAP MPs in particular and I believe the civil society at large should be very concerned as to what the new Cabinet decision announced by Nazri yesterday with regard to the creation of a Department of Parliament entails, not only financially and administratively but also from the standpoint of democratization of the political process and the empowerment of the ordinary citizenry in the country.
I will meet Nazri next week to ask for details of the Cabinet decision on the creation of a Department of Parliament.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman