ISKANDAR PUTERI, Aug 13 — A civil society group urged the Johor legislative assembly today to provide the Opposition Leader with a larger office and equal emoluments as state executive councillors.
Forum Masyarakat Johor (FMJ) coordinator Thomas Fann said the move will ensure that proper recognition is given to the state Opposition leader, who is Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Benut assemblyman Datuk Hasni Mohammad, for him to effectively carry out his responsibilities.
“The position of the Opposition leader acts as part of an effective check-and-balance mechanism in any mature democracy.
“The Johor Opposition Leader should be elevated to the status equivalent to that of a state executive committee chairman with equal emoluments,” he told Malay Mail when contacted today.
In Johor, the combined allowance given to a state executive councillor, who is also a state assemblyman, is RM10,400, excluding a basic salary given by the state government.
A state executive councillor, depending on their role, also has other perks such as a fixed housing allowance of about RM2,500 and other government allowances at RM2,000.
Fann also proposed that Hasni in his capacity should chair the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by amending Standing Order No.110 of the state assembly.
He said this was in keeping with the spirit of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) manifesto which states: “The Opposition Leader will be granted the status and provisions of a Federal Minister”.
Fann, who visited the state Opposition leader’s office in Kota Iskandar yesterday, said he felt that Hasni should be accorded a bigger office with staff members.
“Basically Hasni was handed the keys to only a small room that has not much amenities.
“For us at FMJ, proper recognition of the Johor Opposition Leader’s role in the state assembly would be a step towards strengthening parliamentary democracy and the legislative function of the state assembly,” he said.
On a related matter, Fann said the state assembly needed to come up with a comprehensive website with updated information for public benefit.
He added that a live webcast of the sessions will also be helpful for voters to follow the proceedings and also the performance of their respective elected assemblymen.
FMJ handed a four-point memorandum yesterday to Johor state assembly speaker Suhaizan Kaiat at Kota Iskandar here.
Among the main points was for the state assembly’s office and state government to properly recognise the role of the state Opposition leader, to establish more select committees, increase the accountability of the executive and also easier public accessibility to information and assembly proceedings.
Fann said the implementation of the above proposals will bring benefit to the people of Johor, who made a historic decision to choose the PH coalition to lead the new state government.
He said FMJ believes that this mandate was given because the people want to see a government that is progressive, accountable and responsive to their needs.
“Reforming the state legislative assembly is one of the first steps to fulfil the aspirations of the people of Johor.
“This is the political institution that exists to ensure that the perspectives of the citizens are reflected in the work of the government, where laws can be made to protect them and where the resources of the state can be preserved for future generations,” he said.
FMJ is a broad-based coalition of NGOs that focuses on issues that affect the state and the people of Johor.
It currently acts as an umbrella organisation for various civil society NGOs and also Non-Governmental Individuals (NGI), who are experts in their respective fields.