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REFSA: Dewan Negara Must be Part of the Parliamentary Transformation Agenda

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Media Statement by Fakhrurrazi Rashid, Research Coordinator of Research for Social Advancement (REFSA) on 30 December 2022

Kuala Lumpur, 30 December 2022 – The Research for Social Advancement (REFSA), a progressive think-tank, calls for empowerment of the Senate as one of the main components of the nation’s Parliamentary Transformation Agenda.

In addition to welcoming the suggestions outlined by the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat), YB Dato’ Johari Abdul and the Speaker of the Senate (Dewan Negara), Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Utama Dr. Rais Yatim in their Memorandum on Parliamentary Transformation presented to the Prime Minister, YAB Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim on 29 December 2022, REFSA proposes the aforementioned parties to closely consider implementing Senate elections to level up the status of the august Houses of Parliament as the highest decision-making body.

Senate reforms have the potential to increase the influence of the electorate in electing a Senator which represents their interests in the Parliament, especially for states which are considered as underrepresented such as Sabah and Sarawak. The reforms, should they be implemented in stages, will raise the confidence of the rakyat towards the Senate and deviate from the notion of it being merely a ‘rubber stamp’.

These efforts are in line with the spirit of the Federal Constitution and the parliamentary democracy system which champions the voice of the rakyat to improve their lives and livelihoods while taking Malaysia further in the global scale.

Additionally, the repealed Parliamentary Services Act 1963 needs to be reenacted to fit with the modern narrative Malaysia is facing now. The presence of the Parliamentary Services Act allows for Parliament the autonomy to determine its own formulation of policies and be financially independent from the executive. This will ensure independent governance as well. The reforms which the Parliamentary Services Act 1963 can offer are tremendous and will definitely enhance the role of Parliament in checking the exercise of power by the executive.

The empowerment of state legislative bodies should happen concurrently, in tandem, with the parliamentary transformation agenda at the federal level. The opportunity for synergy in the Conference of the Speakers of Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies of Malaysia organised annually in executing the agenda for parliamentary reforms should be capitalised on.

REFSA sincerely hopes that the Parliament of Malaysia and the newly-formed unity government can continue the commitment to hold engagement sessions and advocacy programmes with the relevant stakeholders to ascertain views on the preservation of our parliamentary democracy system and increase the awareness of the rakyat regarding the importance of the role of Parliament particularly towards the youths.

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