Corrected at 10.45am, 9 April 2010
(Corrected) BACHOK Member of Parliament (MP) Nasharudin Mat Isa’s response to the MP Watch: Eye on Parliament project, which asks all 222 MPs six questions.
(source: parlimen.gov.my)Name: Nasharudin Mat Isa
Party: PAS (Opposition)
Years as MP:
Government position: None
Chief party whip
Membership in parliamentary committees or caucuses:
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association deputy chairperson
Malaysian-American Caucus member
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 would support abolishing the ISA for the very basic reason that it goes against the rule of law. We talk about freedom for citizens, but the ISA denies a person’s right to be heard in open court. Whatever the accusation is against him or her, I think [detention without trial] is denying a person his or her basic human rights. So that’s why I would support abolishing the ISA.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
The terminology needs to be defined first. One must not think that when PAS calls for the establishment of an Islamic state, that we are going to force people to accept the teachings of Islam, or that we will force everybody to convert to Islam.
When we talk about an Islamic state, we mean [a] system of justice, equality and fairness. This is the system we want to apply. If you were to mean an Islamic state as a state which is going to force people to accept the teachings of Islam, I would not agree to that, because forcing is against the teachings of Islam. Rather, we mean applying Islam as a system which is universal in a lot of its values. This is why I think Malaysia should be an Islamic state.
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfill your role?
There are basically two roles. One is to function as a lawmaker in Parliament. I think this should be an MP’s main function because people elected you and you represent them in this House to debate on issues which are related to their interest. But the problem is that until now, that notion of appointing MPs as lawmakers is not [fully] understood by the public. They still have the notion that an MP is like a “pegawai kebajikan masyarakat”.
Because of that, the second function of an MP, which is to care for the constituency, takes up a huge amount of our time and effort. I’ve raised this before in the House, saying that people should be educated about the MPs’ role as lawmakers, rather than as a charity officer. But that does not mean that we don’t take care of their needs. We still have to go down to the constituents and try to help them within the limits that we have.
Parliament doesn’t provide us with enough resources. I’ve raised this several times, calling for parliamentary reform in the form of a committee system, and also to facilitate us with enough resources like research assistants. [Opposition MPs] have been denied the federal constituency development funds that should be given to us to develop our constituencies. This is my second term as MP and I’ve still not seen those funds.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
When you talk about the right to obtain information, our stand is that we want the people to be informed, to be equipped with information and knowledge. I would very much support such an Act.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
I would have a committee system to follow each of the government ministries. I’ve suggested that we establish this as it’s practised by many parliaments in the developed world. I’ve been to quite a number of parliaments abroad and seen how this committee system works well.
For example, when a law is about to be debated, it is discussed at the committee level and is opened to the public for scrutiny. It is debated before a specialised committee before it is brought to the House so you can get information and expert input from the public. So I would very much support the creation of this committee system.
I also support the need to reform the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). I wish the head or chairperson of the PAC came from the Opposition. Because the PAC is where you debate many issues which are of interest to the country, like the management of public funds and resources. When we have a representative of the government to chair it, I don’t see full independence, even though there are members of the Opposition who sit in the PAC.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
Yes, I believe in the separation of power. There is a real need for it and I don’t think we have much of it in the country.
In our manifesto, we have promised the people that if we are given the mandate in the general election, among our efforts will be to put some of these agencies currently under the Prime Minister’s Department or under the government, to be under Parliament. For example, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, and the Election Commission. We want these to be independent and answerable to Parliament so real separation of powers is in practice.
But when we talk about separation of powers between government, Parliament and judiciary, I don’t think it’s practised enough here. There are still a lot of areas that need to be corrected and thoroughly revamped.
For other MP responses, see Full MP list
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