(Source: parlimen.gov.my) Name: Ngeh Koo Ham
Party: DAP (Opposition)
Years as MP: Since 2008
Government post: None
Perak division chairperson
Membership in parliamentary committee or caucus: None
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 ISA abolition/review because it goes against the very notion of justice. It denies the accused the right to be heard.
Moreover, the minister’s decision — whether someone is subversive or not — is a subjective one and cannot be questioned in court. Clearly, innocent people will become victims without redress.
We have seen so many innocent victims detained under the ISA, including the likes of Teresa Kok and the Sin Chew Jit Poh reporter. Many of the present Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional leaders were at one time or another detained under the ISA, not because they were subversive, but because they were a political threat to the ruling elite.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
The words “secular state” and “Islamic state” connote different meanings to different people. I would prefer to discuss this from the stand point of a theocratic state versus a secular state. A theocratic state purportedly wishes to see God’s rule through [humankind] on earth, while a secular state would like to see this world ruled by [human]made laws.
We have seen so many injustices committed in the name of God. Therefore, any decision even in the name of God must and should always be subjected to human scrutiny. Therefore, due to [humankind’s] inherent weakness, we cannot support a theocratic state.
However, a secular state must not also mean it is anti-religion or anti-God. Good values taught in [all] religions must be adopted by [people] in a secular state after they have been examined and scrutinised. Therefore, I support a secular state imbued with virtues, and not a humanistic secular state.
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfil your role?
Theoretically, a parliamentarian is a lawmaker. But in reality, society often expects us to play many other roles. [MPs are] expected to be there whenever [their] constituents need [them].
Therefore, I would describe my role as an overseer of my constituency to ensure problems are attended to, as well as a lawmaker. Due to time constraints, I have not been given sufficient opportunity to debate bills. I would like to debate like a lawyer (I have been one for 25 years) in court, where we are given opportunities to present our views.
I am, however, not complaining as we have so many more opposition MPs in Parliament now to ensure that all matters presented before the august house are thoroughly debated.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
I support a Freedom of Information Act as it will allow transparency and truth to be told. The rakyat has the right to all information to enable them to make an informed decision.
However, I would agree that certain information on national security may have to be kept secret. In the latter case, such secret information must be known to a select trustworthy group to check abuse by any one individual.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
I would suggest that a law be passed to fund all qualified political parties, and that they be [disallowed] to raise financial support from other sources. This would ensure the political parties’ independence. It would take away the pressure to use corruption to fund the party and ensure a more level playing field for all parties.
Do you believe in the separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
I believe in the doctrine of the separation of powers. This will ensure that no one body dominates the country, and it will be easier to keep in check in the event of abuse by any one of these bodies.
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