Name: Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli
Constituency: Kuala Krai
Party: PAS (Opposition)
Years as MP: Since 2008
Government position: None
Central committee member
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 am calling for the abolition of the ISA. The ISA is a law that can be used to detain people without trial. There can be no limit to the period of detention. Some may say it’s used as a preventive measure [against crime]. But there are so many other laws that can help the government maintain law and order and prevent crime. So, I think the ISA is not necessary.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
Malaysia is a country with a Muslim majority. When we talk about an Islamic state, we are talking about a country with good values, where we fight for democracy, justice, fairness; where we do away with corruption, misuse of power, and laws that are unfair to people. Whether that [means] Islamic [state] or not, that is what we want.
We have a country [with] two sets of law — syariah law, and civil law which can be called secular law. We can proceed with that. If you want to improve on the civil law, you can do so. If you want to improve on the syariah law, you can also do so. To me, the connotation is not important, what is important are good values and practices by the government.
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfill your role?
MPs have two roles — one in Parliament and the other in the place they represent. We are a democracy where we are elected by a constituency, unlike in some other countries. Although an MP’s main role is lawmaking, we also have to look into the people’s affairs in our constituency.
Sadly, sometimes people don’t really mind if you don’t really play a role in Parliament but you take care of the people in the constituency. But you have to perform your role [as a lawmaker] as well. I’ve tried to represent the party and the people by bringing up issues in Parliament. Not just as a leader of PAS, but also to bring up local issues.
In the constituency, I have to listen to the people and extend their wishes whether to the appropriate government department or to the ministers. I try to help wherever I can.
In the place I represent, I have to do it on my own. There is a small amount of money provided by the state government, about RM50,000, to help some groups of people such as single mothers and orang kurang upaya. From the federal government, we just get our allowances and we have to make do with that. My office and my assistants are all [paid for] from my own allowance which does not include [allocations] for all these.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
I support a Freedom of Information Act. We need it to progress and make good decisions. Not just by the government, but for anyone. [For example], we need information to decide whom to support or not, whom to vote for, whether the country’s investments are good.
We need to know whether government agreements, such as the toll concessions, are fair. If they are good agreements, then we will support. If not, we don’t. We need this kind of freedom to access such information.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
Firstly, we need proper representation. We don’t want a situation where one MP represents 100,000 [voters], and another only 23,000. There must be a closing up of the gap.
Of course, in some rural areas, there aren’t many people but the area is big. If one person is given too big an area, he [or she] cannot perform. But if you compare urban constituencies, there are still some areas where the constituency size is small compared to others but with a ridiculously big population. The idea of one person, one vote must be implemented properly so there is proper representation and fair work between MPs.
Also, the media should play an open role. There should not be too strict a control on the media. Even though that may lead to abuse and people can write anything they like, in the end, people generally know which is news, which is just hot air or “tipu punya”. People are clever enough. We should allow people to ventilate, to write, and let them judge for themselves. Freedom of the media is important.
We should also allow the third vote for local councils. We have three levels of government. The federal and state governments are elected, if the local government is also elected, that would be good.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
Of course. It’s not about whether I believe in separation of powers. It is a criteria of democracy. Each section of government must be allowed to perform freely without interference and threat, especially the judiciary. If anything goes wrong, that’s where people turn to.
If the judiciary is not seen as fair or is controlled by the government or Parliament, then there is a problem with the legal system. The judiciary must be completely free to perform their duties. This is the essence of any mature democracy.
For other MP responses, see Full MP list
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