Name: Tony Pua Kiam Wee
Constituency: PJ Utara
Party: DAP (Opposition)
Years as MP: Since 2008
Government post: None
National publicity secretary
Membership in any parliamentary committee or caucus:
Public accounts committee member
Asean Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus member
Original deadline: 1 March 2010
Responses submitted: 11am, 6 April 2010
Would you support the abolition/review of the Internal Security Act, in particular the provision that allows for detention without trial?
There’s no question that I would support the abolition or massive review of the ISA. It would probably be better to abolish it and establish a new Act to deal with terrorists. The reason is simple — we have rule of law, everyone deserves his [or her] day in court and there’s no reason for anyone to be detained without trial for an extended period of time.
We can understand an urgent provision to have one week to detain someone. But anything beyond that, the government should have sufficient time to obtain the necessary information to charge the person in court or to release him [or her].
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
Malaysia should be a secular state. I believe a secular state is the best form of government that is able to protect the rights and institutions of all religions, including Islam.
A theocratic state, based on religious principles, is subject to abuse as it is subject to interpretation by [humans]. The best way to protect any religion in the country is through a secular state where everyone is free to practise his or her religion.
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfill your role?
The role of an MP is to bring up issues that affect the people, help improve governance and contribute towards nation building. We should make policies that would make the country a better place to live in.
Unfortunately, Parliament is extremely lacking in providing the necessary infrastructure. In Parliaments and congresses overseas, MPs and congress [members] are given plenty of resources, including finances for hiring research analysts and so on. We have none of that here. The only subsidy we get is for hiring a driver.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
Yes, I would support a Freedom of Information Act. This would allow civil society and the public to gain critical information on how government policies and decisions are made and to be able to critique as well as monitor the government’s performance.
Without this information, it would be difficult to judge the government’s performance, and the degree of wastage and inefficiency will only increase without sufficient monitoring.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
The most important element is having free and fair elections. We need a free media without controls such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act, and the Sedition Act. Those are essential elements for a healthy and vibrant parliamentary democracy.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
Yes, I believe in the separation of powers. It is important, otherwise Parliament becomes a rubber stamp for the executive, which it is today. No matter how much is debated, whether for or against the policies put forward by the government, whether by Barisan Nasional (BN) or by the opposition, none of it is amended.
For example, on [5 April 2010], during the Strategic Trade Bill debate, Ledang MP [Hamim Samuri] questioned why enforcement powers were given to Miti (Ministry of International Trade and Industry) and not the Home Ministry. It was a good question, by a BN MP, but of course, when it came to voting, it didn’t matter.