Categorised | MP Watch

Khairy Jamaluddin (Rembau)

REMBAU Member of Parliament (MP) Khairy Jamaluddin’s response to the MP Watch: Eye on Parliament project, which asks all 222 MPs six questions.

Name: Khairy Jamaluddin
Constituency: Rembau

Party: Umno
Years as MP: Since 2008
Government position: None

Party position: Youth chief

Membership in parliamentary caucus or committee: None

Blog/website: http://www.rembau.net.my

1 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?

Let me first say that we should move away from viewing the ISA question in terms of binary opposites. Rather, we need to elevate the debate to find a middle ground, which encompasses legitimate concerns for national security without compromising on civil and political rights.

As such, I would support the review of the Internal Security Act or even its abolishment if it is replaced by another Act which allows for preventive detention under strict guidelines. I trust the people accept that the demands of national security require for some allowance on the government’s part to detain would-be terrorists. But most importantly, these powers should never be used to stifle legitimate political dissent.

Thus, I would urge a relook at the extensive powers granted to the home minister under Section 8 of the Act. Here, I believe judicial review should be reintroduced. I also feel that those detained under the ISA should have guaranteed access to legal counsel.

2 Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?

If we’re speaking in purist, theoretical terms, then my answer would be neither. Malaysia is neither an Islamic state as understood in a sense that we are a theocracy, nor are we a secular country where there is a clear demarcation between religion and state.

We have both Islamic and secular elements within state institutions. For instance, we practise parallel judicial systems. For non-Muslims, syariah laws generally have little impact on their actions, and they can live by, if you like, “secular” or civil laws. But the same cannot be said for Muslims.

Notwithstanding the above, our constitution spells out that Islam is the official religion of the state, and state funds are channelled towards the religion’s development in the country; for example, in the construction of mosques. Now, clearly this would not happen if there was complete separation between state and religion.

I don’t believe non-Muslims have a quarrel with this fact. Rather, it is Malaysia’s perceived Islamisation that has reignited the debate about whether our country is Islamic or secular.

I think the more important test in facing all the tough issues relating to this debate is whether common sense prevails. Important as they are, the constitutional or legal questions pertaining to the caning of women for consuming alcohol, or the rights to the body of a deceased family member must not supersede the questions of humanity, empathy, compassion and common sense.

3 How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfil your role?

As a young Barisan Nasional (BN) MP, I see my role as necessarily multi-pronged. Chief of my concerns is, of course, my primary constituents: the people of Rembau. As their elected representative, it is my duty to serve as a community champion on issues that matter to my constituents — welfare, education and housing, for example.

But beyond catering to my voters’ needs, my role also encompasses the broader representative function of legislating national issues. To be an effective legislator in this right, it is incumbent upon me to be properly informed on the issues, motions and bills that are presented before the House before participating in parliamentary debates.

As one of the few MPs for BN under the age of 40, and as chair[person] of BN Youth, I feel that as an elected MP, I have a special role in representing the voice and aspirations of young voters, whether in Parliament or outside it.

As for infrastructure, I would like to see a few changes. I would start with a good resource centre that supplies a recent and comprehensive collection of magazines, journals and books, not to mention access to established online research portals. Presently, the majority of the research material is dated, and access to paid online resources is severely limited.

In addition, I would also like more financial and administrative support for bipartisan caucuses set up by MPs.

4 Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?

Yes, I would, because it would assist in the democratisation of Malaysia. Specifically, it would increase government transparency and accountability as well as reduce corruption across the board.

But similar to the ISA debate, we need to accommodate legitimate concerns that will not allow for complete public access to information. On the individual level, surely we would not want private information, including those pertaining to legal privilege of citizens, to be considered public. And in the interests of the country at large, information that can justifiably be seen to jeopardise national security or criminal investigations should also be kept guarded. Again, common sense must triumph.

5 If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?

The driving force behind any democracy is the people. I believe it to be paramount that we always look for ways to ensure continuing utility and relevance of our parliamentary institutions to the people. Parliament should reflect, as well as possible, the public’s aspirations, which are more often than not nonpartisan.

In doing so, I would like to suggest the setting up of a parliamentary caucus made up of young MPs from both sides of the divide. The caucus will engage the young generation through varying means to better understand their wishes for, and even critique of, our parliamentary democracy.

6 Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?

Yes. Any democrat would appreciate the intrinsic and instrumental values of the separation of powers. But seeing how ours is a parliamentary democracy, it is by nature not possible to have complete separation of powers between government and Parliament. The party with the largest presence in Parliament is always the party of government, which is not the case in presidential or semi-presidential democracies like the US or France.

But it is the underlying principle of the separation of powers that I support. The three branches have their respective roles. While the executive and legislative branches may be intermingled, the latter should not be seen as merely furthering the former’s political agenda.

The demand for an independent judiciary is a much more clear-cut case. Here, the judicial system must not only be fair and independent, but must also be seen to be so. favicon

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15 Responses to “Khairy Jamaluddin (Rembau)”

  1. Sean says:

    “Rather, we need to elevate the debate to find a middle ground”
    Zzzzzzz

  2. Roger Lim says:

    This is impressive stuff. If all BN MPs – especially those with executive authority – think and act like this, I would seriously consider voting for BN.

  3. linkinstreet says:

    @Sean: Yeah, that’s why Malaysia is like this. We never try to take opinions that differ from us or from a person that we [dislike]. Instead of thinking [about] things rationally, we let our feelings get in the way of things. Unless we change this mindset, Malaysia will never ever be perfect. But then again, I don’t expect many to agree with this, anyway. XD

  4. JasmineFlower says:

    Hahaha. Sean, not interested to find a middle eh?

  5. Ezzad Emir says:

    Well-argued. Godspeed on your journey, YB Montana!

  6. Jono says:

    “Let me first say that we should move away from viewing the ISA question in terms of binary opposites. Rather, we need to elevate the debate to find a middle ground, which encompasses legitimate concerns for national security without compromising on civil and political rights.”

    Okay, so please tell us what the “middle ground” looks like. Detention without due process necessarily tramples on the civil and political rights of the detained. Even if one argues that it can occasionally be justified on national security grounds, there is no evidence whatsoever that secret jails guarantee the safety of its citizens. To argue anything short of the abolishment of the ISA is really to support it.

    “I think the more important test in facing all the tough issues relating to this debate is whether common sense prevails. Important as they are, the constitutional or legal questions pertaining to the caning of women for consuming alcohol, or the rights to the body of a deceased family member must not supersede the questions of humanity, empathy, compassion and common sense.”

    I’ve re-read this paragraph a dozen times, and I still don’t understand what’s being said. Is the MP in fact saying that the recent Syariah Court rulings have in fact superseded “humanity, empathy, compassion and common sense”? Caning Muslims for alcohol consumption or illicit sex isn’t commonsensical at all to me or most Malaysians, I’d hazard, but it apparently made PERFECT sense to the authorities who meted out the punishment. Which is why judicial decisions are not made simply based on “common sense”.

    Lots of multi-syllabic words are being used here, but nothing of substance is being said, or, to be fair to the MP, asked. Nice try though, Nut Graph.

  7. Anonymous Coward says:

    That’s… surprisingly close to how I feel about the ISA. But look, even if a judicial review of the act is done, the name (or the brand, if you will) of the act itself already carries negative connotations. It needs to be replaced by an act that sufficiently guarantees freedom of speech as well as safeguarding national security interests. It’s not hard to do this, really: you simply need to have a very clear guideline on what constitutes a national threat. Clear, concise and no vague wordings to allow for abusive interpretations is necessary for a reform of the ISA.

    RE: Freedom of Information Act, I have to say that obviously some things still need to be off-limits. Certain state secrets — like military installations and practices, detailed citizenry information, etc — should stay secret. What bugs me with the current state of our information flow is that we (that is, I) know bugger all about what our government is up to. For example, it took way too long for the report on the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide to be released. Reports of such nature should not be classified by default.

    RE: Islamic/Secular state debate. Son, are you reading my mind? The way I understand it is that our founding fathers never meant for this land to be an Islamic state. It should instead be seen as a secular state with clear and strong provisions for its Muslim population.

    Impressive stuff. Let’s hope you speak substance and not mere rhetoric.

  8. Ramesh says:

    Too many big words used not to mention the twisting and turning. Almost fell asleep. Just couldn’t believe this guy went to Oxford.

  9. Jeff says:

    Perhaps what Sean is ZZZ about is that KJ is just spouting empty rhetoric. [Saying] “debate to find middle ground” is such an ambiguous and lazy answer, might as well not say anything.

    His interview answers are brilliant but unfortunately for the skeptic in us, it just seems like empty talk about human rights, democracy, tolerance and all the things we hope for in Malaysia.

  10. Firduas says:

    Khairy, Khairy, Khairy… No, I´m not in love with you.

    I just hope that Malaysian intellectuals knows how to counter-argue arguments such as those set out above in Khairy´s answers.

    The neo-Umnos tend to have a very predictable line of argument, or base from which they frame their premise for arguments. Classics are: “If you don´t like Malaysia so much, why don´t you go back to Tiong San?”; or “the Chinese-Malaysians have benefited more from the NEP than any race in Malaysia.”

    For example, Khairy says “our constitution spells out that Islam is the official religion of the state, and state funds are channeled towards the religion’s development in the country; for example, in the construction of mosques. Now, clearly this would not happen if there was complete separation between state and religion.”

    Well, State funds also go to build temples, churches, and etc. So, we can´t really say that State funds are channeled towards Islam´s development because it is the official religion, can we?

    Besides, the State funds come from the people´s taxes, and not exclusively from Zakat — which means they include the money collected from people engaged in illegal activities from an Islamic perspective (I was going to say “p**k sellers”). So, what kind of State are we if we use unholy money to build mosques?

  11. adriene says:

    In agreement with comments before me that his answers are rhetoric.

  12. zaaba says:

    To those who say KJ’s comments are rhetoric… of course they are! What did you expect? Dissenting views, a rubdown and a shiatsu?

    Any politician who doesn’t tow the line as far as party views are concerned (for brilliant illustration see Ku Li) are vilified and quickly shown the door.

    Anybody expecting more from KJ as far as this medium is concerned must be severely deluded.

  13. HockIB says:

    zaaba,

    Well put. Of course it’s rhetorical! All answers are rhetorical.

    Jono: I think KJ is trying to say he doesn’t agree lah with the caning. But he can’t spell it out because he’s from Umno. Read between the lines lah.

    Ramesh: Er. Which were the big words? I thought we were proud of being a maturing democracy? Good English also must condemn ah? Must write like this wan ah? :P

    Firduas: Okay, if state funds go to the construction of ANY house of worship, wouldn’t that mean that we are not secular in the sense that the US or Britain is secular? We have syariah laws lah, how can we be secular? …

  14. FamousEyes says:

    Wah. KJ would support abolishment of ISA! Not bad…

    Got some good points. I know he’s trying to straddle middle ground. It’s obvious. Whatever his motivations are, good luck to him. He’s far and away the best BN politician out there.

  15. ramka anak malaya says:

    Bravo. Marvellous. Ideal. I hope it is not at face value only, or just for academic purposes. Make it happen. The power is in your hands.


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