(Source: parlimen.gov.my) Name: P Ramasamy
Constituency: Batu Kawan
Party: DAP (Opposition)
Years as MP: Since 2008
Government position: None
Party position: DAP deputy secretary-general
Membership in parliamentary committees or caucus: 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 fully support the abolition of the ISA. However, if such a move was not possible in the near future, I would also certainly support the elimination of some obnoxious aspects of the ISA. For instance, a review of the ISA should provide room for judicial review.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
Malaysia is neither a fully secular nor an Islamic state. Of course, adherents to these two concepts will cite instances to buttress their respective argument. A secular state need not mean that religion will cease to function. I am all for redefining secularism in the context of Malaysia and not aping the examples of some western countries. Secularism in the Malaysian context need not displace religious elements.
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfill your role?
An MP is an elected representative of a particular constituency. He [or she] is supposed to articulate the interests and concerns of his [or her] constituency and play a vigorous role in the national parliament.
The Malaysian Parliament might have the necessary infrastructure, but it is still a poor one compared to other legislative bodies elsewhere. The Barisan Nasional coalition, by virtue of its two-thirds majority, has reduced the democratic space in Parliament.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
I certainly support the Freedom of Information Act. Since we have the Official Secrets Act, we need to counterbalance this with a Freedom of Information Act. Without the Freedom of Information Act, it would not be possible for the public to gain access to vital information. Since the media has been virtually controlled by the state, it is all the more necessary to have this legislation.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
Parliamentary democracy can be strengthened in many ways. While we can introduce this and that, the evolutionary cycle is also important. In practical terms, the election of a speaker and deputy speakers could be an important step in that direction.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
The concept of separation of powers is a theoretical model of good governance. In practice, there is no clear demarcation of separation of powers between the executive, the legislative and the judiciary.
However, in countries like the UK, due to the long history of the political system’s evolution, the independence of these three institutions are clear. In Malaysia, however, it is the fusion of these institutions, with the executive calling the shots, which remains problematic.
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