Support parliamentary reform to penalise MPs who make racist or religious allegations including punishing MPs who make allegation that someone is promoting Islamophobia but could not substantiate the allegation

I support the proposal by the Speaker of Parliament, Johari Abdul, that MPs uttering remarks that are racist, sexist or insulting are liable to an RM1,000 fine and may even be suspended.

The parliamentary reform should also specify that MPs who make racist or religious allegations, for instance, that someone is promoting Islamophobia, should be punished if they cannot substantiate the allegation.

Sweeping parliamentary reforms should be the characteristics of the seven-week Parliament which is to start next Monday.

Shad Saleem Faruqi, the holder of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Foundation Chair at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya and Emeritus Professor at UiTM, has said that Parliament had been “in abeyance” for much of 2020 and 2021 as “it played no role in restoring political stability to the nation after the fall of the Pakatan Harapan Government in February 2020, and has been an unwilling bystander in the devastating health and economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Shad is of the view that parliamentary reforms are necessary to give effect to the constitutional provision on Parliament’s functions and to enhance Parliament’s institutional efficacy.

He pointed out that when the Malaysian Constitution was drafted in 1957, 57 out of the 181 Articles of the basic charter were devoted to the role and function of an elected and representative Parliament as the “heartbeat” of the country’s constitutional and political system.

I have made various proposals to make the forthcoming Parliamentary meeting the most memorable in Malaysian history in initiating institutional reforms for Malaysia to achieve the twin goals of uniting the plural society in Malaysia and to restore Malaysia as a first-rate world-class nation.

These proposals include the tabling the Reports of the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP), the Institutional Reforms Committee (IRC), and the Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) in Parliament as White Papers and the enactment of legislation to limit the term and power of the Prime Minister; to separate the office of the Attorney-General and the Public Prosecutor; to restore the Parliamentary Services Act and to amend the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Act to ensure that the appointment of judges, including the Chief Justice and major judicial appointments, is free from the influence of the Prime Minister.

I also suggested the increase of parliamentary sitting days from 71 days for 2023 to a minimum of 100 days per year so that all needed legislative reforms could be carried out so that there would be an active parliamentary select committee (PSC) system to provide an effective check and balance on the Executive.

Finally, there should be a passage of a Malaysian Integrity Plan to lay out a Charter for Malaysia to become one of the top nations in the world in public integrity and not for Malaysia to lose out to one nation after another on the anti-corruption front.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Veteran