Anwar hopes for Parliamentary Services Bill to be tabled in next session

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim speaks during Pakatan Harapan’s Ceramah Perdana in Tanah Rata January 23, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim speaks during Pakatan Harapan’s Ceramah Perdana in Tanah Rata January 23, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 — Port Dickson MP Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today he hopes to have the defunct Parliamentary Services Act (PSA) 1963 revived, via a Bill for the proposed law which he is seeking to be tabled in the next parliamentary session.

Speaking to reporters today after chairing the parliamentary caucus on reform and governance, the former deputy prime minister said that the law is very much needed for the smooth operations of the Parliament, via its own administration.

“That, if we follow the spirit in Pakatan Harapan, we have to continue. It needs a policy agreement by the Cabinet, and then it needs action by the Speaker’s office, and this includes for example, Parliamentary draftsman.

“The name is Parliamentary draftsman, and therefore they must function from Parliament, so that there is direct relationship with the Parliament, or the specific select committees. So for this, we just want to table (Parliamentary Services Bill), and if possible, we want to expedite it,” Anwar said.

“If you ask me, it should be in the next Parliamentary session, but that’s my humble opinion as a Parliamentary member,” he said when asked as to the timeline for the Bill to be tabled.

Putrajaya is seeking reinstate the PSA as part of a slew of plans being proposed to improve governance, as the issue becomes the focus of a Malaysia Plan for the first time.

The mid-term review of the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) states that the current institutional framework is “inadequate” to ensure checks and balances between the executive, legislative and judiciary, and therefore a separation of power is needed to prevent concentration of power in a particular branch of government.

Putrajaya has mulled reintroducing the PSA as early as 2015, but Pakatan Harapan’s GE14 victory has solidified the proposal.

The PSA was repealed in 1992, and prior to this served as an Act which accorded Parliament the ability to conduct its own administration, staffing and financing.

Under the revised PSA, measures will be implemented to institutionalise the select committee system in the Dewan Rakyat as well as the Dewan Negara. Parliamentary select committees will comprise of MPs across the political divide and will play a crucial role in gathering information, investigating and reporting to Parliament on issues of public interest.

These committees will also be provided with “appropriate” resources so as to enable them to effectively carry out their work, while commissions such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Election Commission (EC) will be answerable directly to Parliament.

Select committees will also be empowered to endorse the appointments of key positions within the MACC, EC, National Audit Department and the Judicial Appointments Commission — part and parcel of PH’s GE14 manifesto on the need to ensure transparency and democracy when it comes to picking top officials.