(source: parlimen.gov.my)Name: P Kamalanathan
Constituency: Hulu Selangor
Years as MP: Since 25 April 2010 (won through a by-election)
Government position: None
• MIC information chief
Membership in parliamentary committees 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?
Well, in all honesty, I don’t think a full abolition is a wise idea. Even countries like the US and Britain, which are considered the benchmarks of democracy and human rights, have enacted laws that are similar to the ISA to stem the threat of terrorism in today’s world. I think all countries should be prepared for such threats.
However, I do advocate that under the Act, there must be mechanisms that allow the accused to fight their case. Ideally, detention without trial should be the last means of action against any individual. [The] natural course of justice within the legal framework should be used to prosecute an individual, especially if the individual isn’t an immediate or imminent threat to national security.
The key, however, is to define what is an imminent and immediate threat to national security. That being the case, I would urge that anyone with political affiliations be brought to a court of law to make sure the ISA’s essence is protected and preserved. In other words, if they are politicians from political parties, then the safe method to deal with them would be a fully transparent court of law with specific charges brought against them rather than detention without trial.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
The answer for this is quite simple. Malaysia isn’t an Islamic state because of the simple fact that the Malaysian constitution doesn’t state so. Hence, taking into regard the concept of “Keluhuran Perlembagaan” from the Rukun Negara, the constitution is clear that the country’s official religion is Islam.
However, it doesn’t state anywhere in that hallowed document that the country is an Islamic state. Hence, I think the answer is self-explanatory if the constitution is understood in its essence. The country’s official religion is Islam, anything more is open to interpretation.
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfil your role?
I would love to answer this question but I’ll only be taking my seat in Parliament [in June]. Perhaps if I’m asked in a couple of months, I would be able to answer the question more elaborately.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
I would support it because I find [that] the more open with information a society and government is, the less the propensity for corruption and abuse of power taking place. However, the line between what is imperative for the public to know and what [are] the threats of publishing such information should be clearly delineated.
For example, telling the world what our contingency plans are against military attacks wouldn’t be a great idea; it would only make our enemies more prepared.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
I feel the forming of committees and alliances which cut across party lines would help this cause. For example, I feel that both sides of the divide should work harder to understand a law and not vote against it [just] because it’s the opposition who are proposing it.
In other words, I would advocate dialogue and open communication across party lines when deciding if a law is good or bad, instead of pack mentality voting. For example, not everything the ruling party proposes is bad, and vice-versa for the opposition’s proposals.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the executive, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
Yes I do. The concept of separation of powers is a worthy idea to inculcate because it creates a system of checks and balances that allows democracy to function at its optimum level. Though almost impossible to achieve in the real political environment, nevertheless I feel we should strive to get as close as we can to the fulfilment of the separations of power theory to further develop the beauty and advantages of a democratic form of government.
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