Name: Abdul Rahman Dahlan
Constituency: Kota Belud
Years as MP: Since 2008
Government position: None
Party Position: None
Membership in parliamentary committees or caucus:
Public accounts committee member
Inter-Parliamentary Union executive committee member
Special committee on corruption member
BN Backbencher Club vice-chairperson
Would you support the abolition/review of the Internal Security Act (ISA), in particular the provision that allows for detention without trial? Why or why not?
I support the proposed review of provisions in the ISA especially [the] capping [of] the duration of detention. On the issue of detention without trial, I am yet to be convinced that that’s what the people actually want repealed.
I am aware that some quarters, especially from the opposition, have been claiming that most people want the ISA abolished. This fact needs to be ascertained first in order for the government to make a correct decision which reflects the wishes of the majority.
While I do agree that times have changed, my gut feeling says most Malaysians are still quite comfortable allowing the government to handle the nation’s security as it sees fit.
I also strongly believe that any demand to abolish the ISA must be people-driven with empirical studies, and not politically-motivated.
Based on the fact that voters have been returning the BN government to power in the last 12 general elections (despite the opposition’s strong manifesto which includes abolishing the ISA), one can conclude with some degree of certainty that voters still acknowledge the ISA’s usefulness.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
I am guided by the [Federal] Constitution which does not label Malaysia as a theocratic state. Nevertheless, Islam is the official religion of the federation and therefore official recognition is allowed and expected. So I leave it at that.
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfill your role?
I consider myself firstly as the voice of the rural people I represent in Parliament. If it means that most times I [have to talk] about development issues, which [are] seemingly trivial to some urban politicians, so be it. Secondly, I think of myself as custodian and protector of the constitution and a lawmaker.
As far as Parliament support and infrastructure are concerned, I think more still needs to be done. Quality researchers and offices within Parliament are two things that quickly come to mind.
With good researchers, MPs can have [higher] quality and well-researched debates in Parliament. In addition, the MPs’ offices in Parliament are also very important. These can be places where MPs do their work, have meetings and meet people. This can also prevent MPs from missing crucial votes due to attending appointments outside of Parliament.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
I welcome the introduction of a Freedom of Information Act because it is in line with the prime minister’s assurance of a clean and transparent government (except of course disclosures which can harm the country’s security). I also think that some government documents not related to the country’s security should be accessible to the public and not unnecessarily placed under the Official Secrets Act.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
More select committees to deliberate current issues in-depth! At the moment, debates at committee stage are being held in the main hall and unfortunately it is almost impossible to have probing debates due to time constraints and the huge number of MPs who want to [speak].
Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
Yes, absolutely. It is extremely important as each party can check and balance the others.
Ideally, the executive’s power must not overwhelm both Parliament and the judiciary. And at the same time, overzealous courts and an overbearing Parliament should not frustrate and undermine the executive’s mandate. After all, the executive branch is answerable to the people every five years.
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