(Source: parlimen.gov.my) Name: Kamarul Baharin Abbas
Constituency: Telok Kemang
Party: PKR (Opposition)
Years as MP: Since 2008
Government position: None
Negeri Sembilan liaison committee chairperson
Membership in parliamentary committees or caucus:
Public accounts committee member
Would you support the abolition/review of the Internal Security Act (ISA), in particular the provision that allows for detention without trial? Why and why not?
Absolutely, yes. We have enough laws, both preventive and punitive, to handle all forms of threats, including security matters. “Preventive detention” as defined by the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English is “detention without trial, especially for political purposes”.
No religion subscribes to arresting anyone without first informing them on what crime has been committed. Likewise, it is even more unacceptable to detain anyone without charge and a proper trial. If at all there are insufficient laws to overcome security elements, reviewing certain legislative provisions can certainly be made to accommodate and tighten the laws.
Currently, the ISA is applied more often than not for political purposes to punish and fearfully subdue political opponents, without due regard for the agony and hardship that befall the individual and the family. A person cannot be detained simply because the government is unable to prepare a strong case to charge the person in court, or [because] they feel politically threatened.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic State?
Malaysia is neither a secular nor theological state, but a constitutional state. However, the Federal Constitution provides for Islam as the official religion and other religions [to be] practised freely. There is no reason to change the present constitutional provisions.
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfil your role?
As an elected representative of my constituency, my service to the constituents is paramount. I ensure that their voices/grievances are heard in Parliament.
It is also my duty to act as a channel to ensure that the people’s interest are well guarded and protected. I am also the medium for them to check that good governance, accountability and social justice prevails in the government.
The Parliament’s infrastructure support is adequate. However, as an opposition MP, the government does not allow total access to agencies, or provide any financial assistance to accommodate the requirements of service to my constituents. [Such financial assistance is] provided to all MPs from the ruling federal government.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why and why not?
Absolutely! The people must not be deprived of any information that has relevance to their lives. The government is a people’s government, and any information must reflect truth and sincerity. The media must be free and exercise fairness, and also become the [conduit for] interaction between the government and the people.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
It [would be] the delivery system. Once Parliament passes laws, budgets and policies, the government must ensure that all must be responsibly implemented in accordance with proper rules and provisions, to ensure and maintain consistently the high standards required by Parliament.
It makes a mockery of the claim that Parliament rules supreme if the delivery system runs contrary to what is required to promote fairness and equitability in the process of democracy.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why and why not?
Definitely yes. Separation of powers [is] fundamental in democracy. Each [institution] has its own functions and duties. The combination of the respective bodies, functioning independently, and [being] consistently aware of common goals will [make each more] effective in implementing [the other’s] roles.
Each also has the duty to objectively check the performance of the other without fear or favour and influence from any quarter, i.e. as a check and balance against abuse of power by the executive and legislative.
Unless we recognise and accept that each [institution] has the responsibility to perform, we will forever be subservient to [the one with] absolute power. Thus, we will have a “democratic” but a corrupt and ineffective government.
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