Name: Ronald Kiandee
Years as MP: Since 2000
Government position: None
Party position: None
Membership in parliamentary committees or caucus:
Deputy Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat
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 support the ISA because it is a pre-emptive law for our plural society in Malaysia. In reality, all laws will have to be studied from time to time so that they are relevant in the present day. So it is not a matter of whether I support it or not, because all laws become inappropriate or outdated with the passing of time.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
Why do we need to decide whether this country is an Islamic or secular state? With the diversity of cultures, races and religions, the most important thing is to uphold harmony and unity. All religions encourage and bid us to do good things and not to stir ill-feelings.
A life that is not based on religion can also be detrimental, and if we choose to hold on fully to secular doctrines, this also does not guarantee that the nation will be harmonious and peaceful. In my opinion, what we practise today — upholding the Federal Constitution — is what brings us harmony and peace.
Therefore, why do we need to state whether this country is Islamic or secular? In Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution, it says that Islam is the federal religion. Even so, other religions can be practised peacefully in all parts of the federation. Other than that, Article 11(1) addresses freedom of religion, where everyone has the right to follow and practise their own religion, subject to Clause 4.
This shows how unique this country is compared to other countries, as Malaysia is one of the countries in the world that makes Islam its official religion and also maintains two parallel justice systems, civil and syariah.
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfil your role?
The main role of a Member of Parliament is to represent the aspirations of the people as well as of the nation. We also ensure that all government policies are implemented as planned.
MPs need more researchers with specific expertise. In Indonesia, for example, each Member of Parliament has three researchers.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
Freedom of information in Malaysia is monitored through existing Acts under the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, like the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, the Digital Signature Act 1997, and the Postal Services Act 1991.
I think, for now, that these Acts are enough and effective when it comes to providing the space for freedom and the control of information in our country. We acknowledge that freedom of speech is among the elements of a democratic and mature society. But in the context of our plural society, freedom of speech should have its limits because of the diversity of religions, cultures and beliefs. There is the possibility that the subjects, words or language that we use are sensitive to some parties even if they are alright to others.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
As a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, I feel that the step to strengthen parliamentary democracy is to ensure that Parliament becomes the ultimate body that enacts laws which can be implemented throughout the country. Parliament should also be the forum for public critique and opinion about national issues.
Do you believe in separation of powers among the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
Yes, the separation of powers is the basis of the country’s formation. It is to ensure that the same people are not in charge of lawmaking, enforcing the law, and penalising those who break these laws. This requires a clear separation of power, without any overlap, among the legislative, executive and judicial bodies.
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