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Nazri should be Minister for “First-World” Parliament and  not Minister for Parliament toilets and canteen


Media Statement

by Lim Kit Siang  

Parliament, Wednesday): The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz should be Minister for First-World Parliament and not Minister for Parliamentary toilets and canteen.


At the “Save Parliament Roundtable” yesterday, Nazri clarified  that there will not be a Department of Parliament and blamed  the five-day “confusion”  over “’jabatan’ with a small ‘j’ (office)  not capital ‘J’ (full-fledged department)” on journalists who were “not on the same wavelength” with him,


Whether small ‘j’ or capital ‘J’, whether full-fledged department or an office of Parliament,  the intent of the Cabinet decision remains unchanged – which is to hijack the traditional administrative powers and functions of Parliament by an administrative fiat, without consultation or approval from Parliament, both Houses of Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara, as well as the civil society.


For the same reason, the objection to the administrative hijack of Parliament by  the Executive remains intact  – that it represents  an unacceptable and intolerable assault on the doctrine of the separation of powers pertaining to Parliament – undermining and even destroying the parliamentary administrative structures and dynamics underpinning whatever little left of parliamentary independence and autonomy in Malaysia.


The administrative hijack of Palriament, whether by small ‘j’ (office)  or capital ‘J’ (department) of Parliament is completely indefensible,  insupportable  and should be dropped.


I support a department or office of parliamentary affairs directly under the jurisdiction of Nazri to help the Minister discharge his Cabinet duties to ensure more efficient and productive transaction of government business in Parliament, but there must be no usurpation of the role, functions and powers of Parliament, including the administrative aspect of Parliament.


Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi chose to make his maiden official speech in Parliament when he became the fifth Prime Minister  to send the clear, unmistakable and powerful  message that he wants to restore Parliament to the centrality of the system of parliamentary democracy and governance in Malaysia.  This was also why he made the solemn pledge in his maiden official speech on November 3, 2003  to respect and uphold the doctrine of the separation of powers as the cornerstone of parliamentary democracy in Malaysia.


Abdullah’s appointment of a Minister with the specific portfolio of parliamentary affairs is bold, unprecedented and most imaginative, reflecting his vision to halt and reverse the undemocratic trend of the relentless   marginalization of Parliament caused by unceasing  attack of the doctrine of separation of powers in the past, and setting the Malaysian Parliament firmly and solidly on the road of reform and modernization to join the ranks of “First World” Parliament.


Nazri seems to have lost his way and bearings  18 months as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department specifically in charge of parliamentary affairs. I call on Nazri to forget about wanting to be a Minister for parliamentary toilets and canteen when he should be putting  his ministerial and political career on the line by  inviting parliamentarians and the Malaysian public to judge the success or otherwise of  his new Cabinet responsibility  solely on  the results of his efforts to propel the Malaysian Parliament towards a “First World Parliament”.


The roundtable of MPs and civil society representatives yesterday reached a three-point consensus, viz:


  • that Nazri’s explanations were not convincing that the establishment of a Department or Office of Parliament does not constitute a great peril  of Parliament losing whatever little that is left of parliamentary independence and autonomy  and a serious subversion of  the doctrine of the separation of powers pertaining to Parliament.


  • Urging Nazri to halt all implementation of the Cabinet decision to establish a Department or Office of Parliament until it has received approval and support of MPs and the civil society.


  • Formation of a steering committee comprising  MPs and NGOs present at the roundtable to organize a national conference on Sunday, November 13, 2005  to review the first two years of the Pak Lah administration with regard to making the Malaysian Parliament a First-World Parliament, focusing in particular on  much-needed and long-overdue parliamentary reforms and modernization.



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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