(Source: parlimen.gov.my) Name: Johari Abdul
Constituency: Sungai Petani
Party: PKR (Opposition)
Years as MP: Since 2008
Government post: None
Central leadership council member
Political bureau member
Kedah elections committee director
Deputy PKR whip
Membership in parliamentary committee or caucus:
Caucus to review the Internal Security Act (ISA)
Asean Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus
Would you support the abolition/review of the ISA, in particular the provision that allows for detention without trial? Why or why not?
I will support abolishing the ISA. We have enough laws to handle any crime in this country. There are so many laws enacted by Parliament. The question is, is there enforcement and thorough investigation?
The use of the ISA is a shortcut to many things. If you don’t like a person or a political rival, you apply the ISA. It’s a shortcut for law enforcement officers and for those in power without having to do thorough investigations. Even if you are released for lack of evidence, it is still an injustice.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
Calling it secular or Islamic is, to me, very academic. What is important is to uphold our constitution. There is no need to debate whether it should be secular or Islamic. We got our independence with this constitution and all the people of Malaysia have agreed to uphold it.
We should proceed with the way we’ve been living. To discuss labels is academic when we already have the constitution.
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfill your role?
My role as an MP is to be a bridge between the people and the government in power. I speak the people’s views to the government.
Support- and infrastructure-wise, we are one of the worst parliaments compared to Indonesia or even Cambodia. We are not provided with researchers, and we do not even have ample space to work in. As such, parliamentarians do not have the time to do their reading and research.
When Parliament does not sit, we have our constituency to take care of, with a million things to do. So we do legislative work when Parliament is in session. We will be given tons of books, reports and bills to read, but there is no space to read them. Parliament should seriously think about providing us with ample space and researchers.
We are moving towards a two-party system, and Parliament should take the role of shadow committees seriously, such as what the Pakatan Rakyat has. I am in the home ministry shadow committee. But I have no space in Parliament to do shadow committee work. The quality of debates suffers because MPs cannot prepare, and time is wasted in the House when inappropriate questions are asked. In the end, the rakyat doesn’t benefit.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
I will support such an Act because ultimately you cannot stop people from getting information. As long as the act has guidelines to ensure responsibility and accountability [from] those writing or using the information.
Such an Act will also help people know the planning and money involved in national development that will not only affect people today but in the future. If there can be access to development information, people can scrutinise whether things are being done the right way and challenge it.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
There must be more freedoms: the freedom of speech, of information flow, and the freedom of assembly. The freedom to speak is everyone’s right as citizens, and this is in the constitution. The freedom of information is about letting people have clear rather than distorted information. The freedom to assemble is about the freedom of people to express their unhappiness after they’ve written or complained to the authorities but nothing is done.
While these things are provided for in the constitution, there are other laws like the ISA and the Official Secrets Act which contravene these freedoms. Such oppressive laws should be abolished.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
I 100% believe in it. As human beings, with egos and greed, we are bound to make mistakes. We can be influenced by many things. Our institutions of government are not exempt from human nature. If we don’t have separation of powers that is clearly enacted and observed, the whole country can go haywire.
Only with separation of powers can the country be run properly and can people feel that their rights are protected. Human beings cannot be trusted and politicians are political animals. So separation of powers must be fully institutionalised so that the people are protected and all institutions are accountable.
For other MP responses, see Full MP list