Name: Lim Lip Eng
Party: DAP (Opposition)
Years as MP: Since 2008
Government post: None
Federal Territories publicity secretary
Membership in parliamentary committee or caucus:
Asean Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar caucus
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 wholly support the abolishment of the ISA, which accords broad and almost absolute power to the home minister to detain anyone with impunity. The [minister's] use of this power is unquestionable [in court] and has unjustly led to selective detention without trial of government opponents.
Proof that the nation’s “security” was breached is often never revealed, which I suspect [may not even have existed]. Many have lost years languishing in Kamunting. For those fortunate enough to be released, there is neither an apology nor a penny of compensation. Despite the breach of detainees’ and family members’ fundamental human rights and the injustice, these shenanigans in the name of national security still go on.
By merely having this law, the government has set Malaysia backwards by at least 30 years! Absolute power in the hands of any leader, more often than not, will lead to temptation to misuse such power, especially with no checks and balances. Even when accusing any potential terrorist, they, too, ought to be given a chance to defend themselves in open court.
Guantanamo [Bay] is the US’s shame; we don’t need to continue having ours. The ISA has outlived its purpose [since] the Malayan Communist Party was rendered toothless and surrendered in 1989. Now is as good a time as any to rid ourselves of this shameful law.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
Malaysia is neither a pure secular nor Islamic state. Our [founding leaders] all agreed that Islam would be the federation’s religion, but at the same time, Malaysians are accorded the freedom to choose their religion. This has been guaranteed in the Federal Constitution. Everyone’s interest is considered … irrespective of the faith they practise.
Islam is also duly accorded the support of the federation due to its special position. For [Muslims], certain civil matters are decided in the syariah courts, but are never imposed on non-believers.
This unique position has preserved our nation’s harmony despite the continuous presence of [groups] who try to stir up provocative issues to elevate their political position. Religion or faith is and always has been a [private] matter, and should be left as such. I don’t need to punish another person according to my own beliefs so that they, too, can go to [heaven].
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfil your role?
I represent more than 65,000 voters in [Parliament] with all their concerns, views and interests in guiding the route this great nation will take. I do my best to ensure that their views are heard before decisions are taken and laws are passed, with God’s grace.
The population from this area is very diverse. It ranges from the more well-to-do in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Sri Hartamas and Damansara, to more dire areas in Kg Segambut Dalam, Kg Sungai Penchala and Kg Bukit Lanjan.
As their elected MP, I am also tasked with solving many local issues that are left unattended by the non-elected city council. While I relish the opportunity to be able to help those in need, I have to admit that attending to all these matters with my limited resources is indeed taxing.
For me to be effective in deliberating on the diverse bills that are tabled each (parliamentary) session, having a good resource centre, capable researchers and supporting offices is critical. Currently, I can only do the best I can with my own resources. This is in contrast with the ruling party’s ability to tap into entire government resources for their needs, while other non-aligned parliamentarians are left on their own. This ought to be corrected so that future laws passed will have [the benefit of] many diverse views.
On an adjacent issue, until local council and city hall elections are implemented, having greater resources accorded [so that] an MP [can] improve servicing local matters would be great.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
I wholly support this Act. Secrecy allows room for devious and corrupt acts to be covered up. Decisions that affect the public ought to be made public unless it affects extremely critical issues such as national security. I doubt there are many such issues, [but even so], there ought to be a specific time bar for such secrecy.
Currently, everything is conveniently covered under the shroud of legal secrecy. Even if righteous government officers have proof of corruption or acts of betrayal to the nation, they have no recourse to expose it without the fear of being sent to jail.
Openness and transparency will bring about improved productivity, cost savings and increased government efficiency.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
I would like each parliamentary constituency to have fairer representation based on the actual number of voters rather than arbitrary delineation. Currently I represent close to 70,000 voters and perhaps 300,000 unregistered voters from Segambut. But there are other parliamentary constituencies having much fewer voters. Putrajaya, for example, has only 8,000 voters
This has created a situation where a voter in a bigger population area has less say than a voter in a smaller population area. This imbalance is rendered worse by having the “first-past-the-post” system.
To seek fairness in delineation may be close to impossible, thus an alternative is to adopt a proportional representation system in Parliament based on number of votes received.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
This is absolutely critical to ensure check and balance in the making, enforcement and execution of laws. Currently, legislation in place shackles the courts from reviewing laws passed in Parliament. At the same time, the government is absolutely beholden to the executive.
Until this imbalance is corrected, we are placing too much power in the executive’s hands. As said by Lord Acton: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great [people] are almost always bad [people].”
This is the sad reality befuddling our great nation; even good [persons] with noble purposes can do little. We have all seen noble ministers, just and wise judges and incorruptible government servants sidelined by those beholden and addicted to the executive’s vast power.
Only another great political tsunami can change this and steer us on the correct course.
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