Parliament to adopt UK model in bridging gap between lawmakers and civil society

Parliament has agreed in principle to register an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) as part of its function. — Picture by Azneal Ishak
Parliament has agreed in principle to register an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) as part of its function. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 — Seeking to improve relations with critical civil society organisations (CSOs), Parliament has agreed in principle to register an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) as part of its function, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof said today.

APPG, a concept borrowed from the UK Parliament, is an informal working group of MPs and senators to tap society at the grassroots level and come up with policies addressing issues such as food security and sustainable development for the country.

It is separate from the existing formalised bipartisan parliamentary select committees (PSCs), which exists to oversee the execution of policies and acts as a check-and-balance.

Ariff said APPG can provide a clearer perspective on what the public actually needs.

“APPGs is not confined to formalities and it can be as wide as the boundaries of society. In bridging the gap between Parliament and the people, APPGs can rise above political divide and put the people first.

“There are tremendous mutually beneficial relationships when MPs partner with CSOs in APPGs,” said Ariff in his keynote address at the National Forum on Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2019 held at Parliament here.

He said lawmakers are elected to act in the public interest “but they may lack in-depth knowledge of policy areas that more specialised CSOs possess or the special expertise and skills of external oversight institutions”.

“Most CSOs operate at grassroots levels and thus, in general, have active engagement with local actors and communities. It is almost obligatory upon MPs to seek and maintain dialogue with a wide range of CSOs as a regular part of the parliamentary process,” he added.

He said all the APPG working groups will be registered under Parliament and will consist of a minimum of five MPs.

Membership of the working groups will be open to both members of the Dewan Rakyat and the Dewan Negara.

Ariff also revealed that the formation of the country’s first APPG will be focusing on sustainable development goals.

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