Updated on 2 April 2010, 4:40pm
Name: Devamany S Krishnasamy
Constituency: Cameron Highlands
Years as MP: Since 2004
Deputy minister in the prime minister’s department
Membership in parliamentary committees or caucus: None
Blog/Website: Facebook – SK Devamany
Original deadline: 4 Feb 2010
Responses submitted: 3pm, 1 April 2010
Would you support the abolition/review of the Internal Security Act, in particular the provision that allows for detention without trial?
The ISA needs to be modified, but detention without trial has to be stopped. There should be proper detention procedures according to the civil laws we have.
The Criminal Procedure Code and the Penal Code have already been reviewed on arrest procedures, the reason for arrests and remand. Within 24 hours, the accused or the lawyer representing him [or her] must know the reason for arrest. And within a stipulated time, they must immediately be released or charged.
These changes to the law were made to ensure the legal process is transparent and can be accepted by international norms. If not, our human rights index will suffer and affect us on the international front.
Because of terrorism and other threats, even the US has instituted a similar law. So along those lines, we should continue the ISA, but it cannot be used for petty crimes or to suppress political opposition. It must be reviewed to specifically state to whom [the Act should be applied], for what kind or category of crime. That has to be very clear, or it can be abused. The law cannot be open-ended.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
It is a secular state for me because of our Federal Constitution. We also have civil laws, although we also have syariah laws [for Muslims]. As far as I’m concerned, our constitution, the Parliament, the executive and the judiciary are secular. And it is in this spirit that we signed [on] for our independence and we formulated our constitution, which has been accepted as the nation’s doctrinal basis.
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfill your role?
I represent the rakyat who elected me. My first duty is to the rakyat in my constituency. In the constituency, one of my roles as MP is to consolidate all the duties of the different levels of government. We have local councils to take care of building planning, garbage collection and other services.
Then we have the state assemblypersons, who take care of issues like land. As MP, I look into the federal government agencies to bring about change and development to my constituency. For example, Cameron Highlands needs high-tech agriculture for farmers and tourism development programmes. At the same time, I have to think about the quality of life for residents there, like traffic issues, as more development comes to the area.
As MP, I have to look 10 years ahead for my constituency and visualise its future accordingly. Then filter down that change to the people who elected me.
I find I have enough resources to conduct my work as an MP because I am also a deputy minister. If I were only an MP, I would have to be responsible for lobbying or pushing for more resources. If not, I [would not be] worthy to be elected as an MP.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
Yes. Provided information is used responsibly. In any case, the prime minister is moving towards having more openness in government now. Transparency is one of the dimensions in the New Economic Model.
We are moving towards this to regain the people’s confidence. Maybe we should look at whether freedom of information can be an administrative process or an act of Parliament. But as far as I’m concerned, the government is already moving towards openness.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
I would give parliamentarians a bigger and more serious role. Right now, the executive is the prime mover of policies and of implementation and evaluation. I think Parliament has to be given greater bite and strength.
There should be parliamentary reform to have select committees vis-à-vis the ministries. There should be a drafting committee that should come within Parliament’s sphere so that there is independence and check and balance in the formulation of laws. These are things that can make Parliament stronger and the MPs more responsible.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
One hundred percent. We need it for effectiveness of democracy and to have confidence among the rakyat. We can still improve, but we are moving well with the new prime minister. I think I see some changes and I’m happy. In recent years there have been steps towards giving the people a voice, so I think we are moving in the right direction.
For other MP responses, see Full MP list
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