*Updated on 2 April 2011
(Source: parlimen.gov.my) Name: Gobalakrishnan Nagapan
Constituency: Padang Serai
Party: PKR (Opposition), Independent* (from 29 Jan 2011)
Years as MP: Since 2008
Government post: None
Central leadership council member
Membership in parliamentary committee or caucus:
Asean Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus
Original deadline: 3 March 2010
Responses submitted: 12.30pm, 1 April 2010
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’ll support the abolition of the ISA because there are enough laws in the country to determine if somebody is a threat. The ISA is an abuse of the system whereby it denies a person the right to defend himself [or herself].
As a former ISA detainee myself, I was denied all access to defend myself. My family had to go to court for me, and they never knew the truth until I came out. So I think this is an irrelevant act and should be abolished.
I was detained in 2001 at the height of the Reformasi movement. And I was also one of the few detainees who was released by the High Court judge on habeas corpus, and I’m thankful to the judge for seeing it in the right perspective. I’m free because this judge stood up to defend the law. There are so many other judges who [do] not stand up to defend the law.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
To me, what is most important is not whether the country is secular or Islamic, but that everybody is given the right to practise their religion and have the right to speak about their religion.
We should not interfere in the affairs of other religions. At the same time, the use of the syariah courts and the civil courts should be in accordance with a person’s religion. So it doesn’t matter to me whether it is an Islamic or secular state, as long as everybody’s rights are protected.
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 think double standards are employed. MPs from the government are given allocations to do their work. But for me, [as with] other MPs from the opposition, we are denied all that. MPs from the government also have better access to the government machinery.
You see MPs from both sides sitting together and talking in the parliamentary café, but that doesn’t mean we are all treated equally. [Part of] Parliamentary democracy means that every MP is given the freedom and access equally, not just to debate in Parliament, but also to do the necessary work in his [or her] constituency.
Therefore, my being denied the RM1 million annual [federal constituency development] allocation is a gross injustice to all the voters of Padang Serai. I urge the government to immediately enforce equality among all MPs.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
Yes I would. Freedom of information should be allowed. There should not only be an act, but there should also be a monitoring system to ensure that this freedom is implemented [at every level].
Also, we should not be having an Information Ministry that curtails writers and bloggers. In fact, they should be giving protection to people who report the truth.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
I would form a caucus of parliamentarians. Immaterial of their political affiliation, I would get everybody to sit down together, discuss our issues, and have them addressed properly by the government, because every MP should be [listened to and] assisted by the government.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
Yes I do, but there is a lot of manipulation and interference by the executive. See, for example, the cases of (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim and (Datuk Seri Dr) Chua Soi Lek. Both are [said to have committed] the same offence of unnatural sex, but Anwar, without any evidence, is being tried in court. Whereas for Chua, many people have viewed his video, but [no charge] is brought against him.
The problem is that there is no separation of powers between the judiciary and executive. There is no justice and democracy when this happens. All the branches of government are intermingled, and there is a lot of interference from the executive.
For other MP responses, see Full MP list
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