PETALING JAYA, 16 July 2010: All 222 Members of Parliament (MPs) have been contacted for the MP Watch: Eye on Parliament project, and have responded with either full answers or a non-reply.
As of 15 July, 113 MPs answered in full all six questions on key democracy issues that were posed to them. The other 109 MPs did not answer.
Of those who replied in full, 46 were from Barisan Nasional (BN) and 61 were from Pakatan Rakyat (PR). Of the BN- and PR-independent MPs, six replied, including Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s sole MP and one of Sabah Progressive Party’s two MPs.
|MP Watch Tally as of 15 July 2010|
|Barisan Nasional||Total Seats||No Reply||Full Reply|
| Pasir Mas
| Kulim-Bandar Baru
| Bayan Baru
| Nibong Tebal
| Bagan Serai
| Wangsa Maju
||Number of MPs Responded|
|Total Seats||Total Responses|
Of those who declined, some were upfront in stating that they did not want to participate in the project. A few said their answers might put them at odds with their parties. Some said they would reply in due course but have yet to, to date.
The Nut Graph sent out another round of reminders at the end of June to MPs who did not supply full answers and gave them another two weeks until today to respond. Even though reminders will no longer be sent to the MPs, late replies will still be uploaded on The Nut Graph if they are submitted.
The project, which began in mid-January 2010, will now move into the next phase where the MPs’ answers will be analysed with additional interviews. A summary of the analyses will be published at a later date on The Nut Graph. There are also plans to publish in 2011 the analyses in a parliamentary guidebook for MPs and other stakeholders.
The topics for analysis will be based on the six questions that were posed to MPs as follows:
- MPs’ views on abolishing or reviewing the Internal Security Act, a gauge of their understanding about human rights and detention without trial, and what strategies are possible to raise further awareness about the right to trial among legislators.
- MPs’ views on whether Malaysia should be an Islamic or secular state, and their differing perceptions about the terms “secular”, “Islamic state” and “official religion”. This analysis will also look at the value and importance in identifying Malaysia as either.
- Complaints by MPs across the divide about the lack of parliamentary resources such as research assistants. MPs recognise the need for research support to ensure the quality of parliamentary debates. Another complaint, mostly among Opposition MPs, is the lack of access to the federal constituency development fund. Parliamentary and political funding will be examined in this analysis.
- The role of MPs as lawmakers, perhaps one of the least emphasised roles of an MP in the answers supplied. MPs who display more awareness about their legislative roles have also noted the lack of parliamentary select committees to make and fine tune laws. This analysis will also examine the law-making process in Malaysia.
- Weak understanding about what a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act entails and the availability of any strategies to raise awareness about FOI among parliamentarians.
- Ways MPs have suggested to strengthen parliamentary democracy, such as reforming the Elections Commission and abolishing the party whip when voting in the House. This analysis will also look at what ideas can feasibly be implemented, and how Malaysia’s parliamentary democracy compares to others.
- The gap between ideals about the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judiciary, which MPs generally believe in, and the reality of the situation in Malaysia. The analysis will trace how the separation was undermined and what can be done to regain it.
Mandarin news portal Merdeka Review has also picked up on the MP Watch project and written analyses of the MPs’ positions on the Islamic/secular state question. It found that BN MPs were divided over the subject, while PR MPs tried to avoid or diffuse the matter.
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