Media statement by Dr Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Bangi, issued on Aug 26, 2022.
No doubt, many Malaysians will be celebrating Merdeka this year, satisfied that justice has finally been served on the biggest scandal in Malaysian history with former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak finally being sent to jail after he lost his final appeal at the Federal Court over the SRC International Sdn Bhd RM42 million case that is linked to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.
Malaysians can also celebrate the passing of the historic anti-party hopping constitutional amendment earlier this month.
However, there remains lots of "unfinished business" (borrowing from the tile of my colleague Yeo Bee Yin's new book) that should be included in the parliamentary agenda, especially if elections are called next year. There are two more possible parliamentary sessions at the end of this year and in March next year where such legislative reforms can be passed. These reforms are my Merdeka wishlist for the country, in what will be my last Merdeka as the MP for Bangi.
First on my wishlist is a constitutional amendment that will recognise explicitly the passing of citizenship status of children of Malaysian mothers, including those born overseas. There could be tens of thousands (and perhaps more) of such children in and outside the country. Right now, the fate of the citizenship of these children lies in the hands of the Federal Court. A responsible government should grant this right explicitly as part of the larger "Keluarga Malaysia" agenda. Even BN/Umno Wanita chief Datuk Seri Noraini Ahmad has come out in support of the recognition of such citizenship rights. DAP's secretary general Anthony Loke has already expressed DAP's support for such a constitutional amendment, and I am sure that other MPs from other parties would be willing to do the same.
My second wish is for the passage of a "Constituency Allocation Act" that guarantees equal constituency allocation from the federal government to all MPs regardless of whether they are government or non-government MPs. We need to formalise the agreement that is in the MOU (memorandum of understanding) signed by Pakatan Harapan with Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob's government. This will be an important step as part of the process of transitioning to a more mature and developed democracy.
My third wish is for the passage of a Political Financing Act, something which Prime Minister Ismail Sabri has already openly discussed. This Act needs to include the following elements to make it more acceptable to all parties, namely (i) funding for political parties based on vote share, (ii) adequate safeguards for small donors including a threshold of RM50,000 for donations which need to be declared, (iii) an independent council that will be appointed from political parties and respected stakeholders to oversee this Act.
My fourth wish is for the passage of a "Fixed Term Parliament and Vote of Confidence Act" which will set the term of Parliament at a fixed term of five years and also establish a mechanism whereby a PM who is appointed by the King will also have to seek a vote of confidence in Parliament in order to show that he or she had majority support in the Dewan Rakyat. In addition, this Act will also spell out the conditions by which a PM can be replaced, including by voting for an alternative PM candidate who is able to show majority support in the Dewan Rakyat. This Act will give further political stability to the country, especially in view of the very real possibility that no one coalition will likely command a strong parliamentary majority post GE15 (15th general election).
My fifth and final wish is for proper consultation and broad bipartisan support for the proposed "Fiscal Responsibility Act" that will be tabled during the upcoming budget session. This kind of broad consultation and bipartisan support is needed especially if the Government wants to introduce painful reforms such as targeted subsidies for items like petrol and electricity.
I understand that many people are anticipating an election later this year, shortly after the tabling of the budget which had been brought forward to Oct 7, 2022. Given the uncertainty on when Parliament will be dissolved, there is still a need for a proactive legislative agenda, even if it is to set the framework of what could be on the political agenda post GE15, whoever forms the next government.
Selamat Menyambut Hari Merdeka ke-65!
Happy 65th Merdeka Day!