Name: Khalid Abdul Samad
Constituency: Shah Alam
Party: PAS (Opposition)
Years as MP: Since 2008
Government position: None
Shah Alam branch chief
Central political bureau member (suspended in January 2010 for six months)
Membership in parliamentary committees or caucuses: None
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 would definitely support the abolishment of the ISA. If [it is amended] to remove detention without trial, then it’s no longer the ISA. So if that’s what’s meant by amendment, I would agree to that.
The most important thing is to ensure that a person detained is proven guilty of a specific charge. No party should be given the absolute authority to detain without having to prove the guilt of the person being charged.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
Terminologies can be a bit difficult. If we can move away from semantics and look at what is actually meant, it would be easier to understand.
From my point of view, being a PAS member, obviously I agree with the objectives of the party, which states clearly in its constitution that it struggles to ensure the formation of a society within which Islamic principles and values are upheld.
To say “secular state”, meaning completely free of religion, would not really [be in line] with the realities of any society. In every society, the questions of morality, ethics, and right and wrong are integral.
While trying to keep away from labels which may misrepresent the issue as a whole, I would say I believe in a society within which Islamic values and principles of justice are established. If that’s what Islamic state means, so be it.
But I think the term conjures up a lot of misunderstanding and fears. It should be avoided, except within circles who understand what is meant.
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 is as a legislator in Parliament at the national level. I have to try and represent the views of both my party and my constituents pertaining to the policies the government wishes to implement.
Parliament doesn’t really provide us with the necessary infrastructure and support. Discussion and debate is limited, and the ruling party gets its way most of the time, if not all the time.
In Parliament, we’re not involved much in policy planning and drafting. We’re always only referred to at the very last minute. For example, the proposed Goods and Services Tax Bill was just put on the table, and we’re expected to debate it. We were not involved in the Bill’s initial drafting. There should be a more democratic and representative parliamentary procedure involving all parties, right from the beginning, rather than at the end.
The fact that the federal government does not give us any allocation also makes our task a bit more difficult. Because I’m a parliamentarian in Selangor under the Pakatan Rakyat, I do get access to other assistance which would make it a bit easier.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
Yes, definitely. I think freedom of information is important, especially in a democracy. People have to make decisions based on information. And if much of it is classified as official secrets and there is no access, then obviously people would not be able to make the best decision.
Information will ensure that democracy functions as it should, and that the best decisions are made.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
It’s not a question of insufficient systems or procedures. The basic institutions for a successful and healthy democracy have always been in place. It’s more the individuals or parties that hold the reins of power that prevent democracy from being completely or effectively implemented.
[But] as the question asks about one thing I could do to strengthen democracy, my answer would be to change the current leadership and install one that is true to the spirit of democracy. This, of course, can only be achieved by educating the public on the principles of democracy, and how it is in the public’s interest to defend its institutions and practice.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
Yes, definitely. That’s the whole basis of democracy: a system of checks and balances. A completely independent judiciary is very important to ensure that the executive, in particular, performs.
Having an independent legislature is also important, where the executive (as the name implies) implements what is decided in the bigger forum (in Parliament). That’s the basic theory within parliamentary democracies.
For other MP responses, see Full MP list
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