Name: Wong Ho Leng
Years as MP:
Since 16 May 2010 (won through a by-election)
Government position: None
Party position: Sarawak DAP chairperson
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 support total abolition. The ISA’s original purpose was to fight the communist threat. That threat has already been dealt with, and today, there are no longer any communist activities in Malaysia.
The ISA has served its original purpose and is now an outdated piece of legislation. I am not against laws that deal with terrorism. But we already have sufficient legislation for this purpose, like the Police Act.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
Malaysia is and has been a secular state from the very beginning, for two reasons. One, the Federal Court has upheld Malaysia as a secular state. As a lawyer, I always abide by the court’s decision.
Secondly, our founding [leaders] decided and had the intention that Malaysia was and should always be a secular state. Malaysians should stand steadfast against the declaration by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahahtir Mohamad on 29 Sept 2001 when he said that Malaysia is an Islamic state. To me, it is appalling that Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties blindly endorsed Mahathir’s declaration. It is simply not acceptable.
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 as MP is to be a conduit between the people [in my] constituency [and] Parliament. But I do not look after people in my constituency alone. I will be an MP for all Malaysians, not only for my constituents. When I am in Parliament, it will be my duty to bring up the people’s plight and concerns. I will also be speaking on behalf of my state constituency [as I am a state assemblyperson].
As for resources, I do not know yet as I will only be sworn in next week. But I have been told that resources for opposition MPs are not enough as the government tries every means to restrict our role when serving the people.
Would you support a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act? Why or why not?
Yes, we should have a FOI Act. The administration of government should not be done secretly, but should be transparent. With FOI legislation we will be able to see how the government mechanism and administration works, and whether it is in the people’s interest.
As evidence that the DAP and I, as a lawmaker, agree with FOI laws, one of our state [assemblypersons] in Sarawak moved a motion to table a FOI bill in the state legislative assembly. But it was rejected on the grounds that it goes against federal law. This is rubbish. In Australia, there is FOI law at federal level and at state level.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
I would educate people on what the ideologies of a true democracy are. In that manner, parliamentary democracy can be enhanced. Democracy is by the people for the people. People tend to think that the BN is infallible.
But the 2008 general election and the Sibu by-election have shown the people that politics is the art of the possible. So long as the people unite and become more educated about the values of democracy, it is no longer the case that the BN cannot be replaced.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the executive, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
I do believe in the separation of powers, but unfortunately, it has not been apparent in Malaysia. As a lawyer, I absolutely believe in it, and am convinced it must be practised. This separation in Malaysia has been weakened since 1988 after the judicial crisis caused by Mahathir. Not many people believe there is true separation anymore, nor do they believe that our judiciary is independent.
For other MP responses, see Full MP list
The Nut Graph needs your support