Gerakan president Dominic Lau has expressed support for the formulation of a Fixed-Term Parliament Act (FTPA) to allow MPs to serve a full term.
However, he took issue with government leaders seemingly relying on such legislation to stabilise what he called a “weak government”.
Speaking to Malaysiakini, Lau (above) said the reasoning given by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Azalina Othman Said to justify an FTPA was inappropriate.
“I feel that the proposal of Azalina and Zahid for the FTPA is aimed at shoring up a weak government, and that is wrong.
“I think it shouldn’t be done this way… because I believe a government should convince the people and stabilise its power based on its own performance and achievements, which would be more appropriate,” he said.
Zahid had proposed that a bill be introduced to ensure that a government can serve out a full term.
This was later interpreted by others, including Azalina, to be referring to an FTPA.
“My opinion is that the FTPA is designed to allow these lawmakers, members of Parliament, to complete their five years of work. That is what I endorse.
“However, within these five years, I must emphasise that certain things need to be provided to this Parliament – sufficient resources and authority,” he said.
No gatekeeping by speaker
One such provision, Lau said, was for procedures for confidence votes to be modified to allow MPs to initiate such moves without being gatekept by the Dewan Rakyat speaker.
“If there is a vote of no confidence against the prime minister, currently, it’s the speaker who decides whether to accept it or not.
“I think this shouldn’t be the case. If we want to implement FTPA and if you want to give MPs or lawmakers this regular parliamentary session, I propose that one-fourth of the members of parliament can demand a vote of no confidence against the prime minister,” he said.
He said an FTPA should not mean that a government is not subject to change.
“Many people might ask me if changing the government is still possible. Yes, it is.
“(An FTPA) doesn’t necessarily apply to the government.
“If your performance is poor, if you can’t deliver results, if your promised commitments are not fulfilled, then these 222 elected members of Parliament should decide whether you can continue as the prime minister or if a change of government is needed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lau said an FTPA also needed to come up with a fair allocation of resources to MPs from both the ruling and opposition parties.
“Currently, it seems like (Prime Minister) Anwar (Ibrahim), for example, is providing resources only to MPs from the ruling party. Opposition MPs receive nothing. So, I think this is unfair.
“If we are to have an FTPA, there should be a fair allocation of funds to these members of Parliament,” he said.