BATU Gajah Member of Parliament (MP) Fong Po Kuan’s response to the MP Watch: Eye on Parliament project, which asks all 222 MPs six questions.
(Source: parlimen.gov.my) Name: Fong Po Kuan
Constituency: Batu Gajah
Party: DAP (Opposition)
Years as MP: Since 1999
Government position: None
Party position: None
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 abolishing the ISA. A person is innocent until proven guilty. As such, it is unfair and unjust to detain a person without giving him [or her] the basic human right to defend himself [or herself].
It is an inhumane piece of legislation because the person does not know how long he [or she] would be detained. A person who is convicted in a court of law knows how long the jail sentence is. One person, the home minister, with a stroke of the pen can put a person in detention for an indefinite period, and the detention order can be extended every two years.
The Act’s existence creates fear among the public to speak up on matters which they view differently from the government. It has been abused by the authorities for political reasons.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
We are a multiracial society, and turning Malaysia into any religious state is not suitable. We have been living in peace and harmony with Islam as the religion of the federation, and the freedom to practise other religions as stated in Article 3 of the Federal Constitution. It should remain so.
We should celebrate this diverse multiracial society and accept it as an advantage and not as [a source of] conflict.
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfil your role?
My most important role as an MP is to safeguard my constituents’ interest.
In Parliament, I am to speak up for them in the House, to check on the government, and to ensure that policies and laws are in the people’s interest.
Sadly, the law-making process is reduced to a mere formality most of the time. MPs are not consulted in the drafting of bills. Rarely are amendments made to bills proposed by the executive, despite MPs raising valid points or weaknesses in the said bill.
In my constituency, my role is to assist my constituents whenever they have problems in dealing with government departments and agencies. Basically, my day-to-day responsibilities are more like a “public complaints bureau”. Why is this so? It is because there are many weaknesses in our current civil service.
Parliament provides only a few researchers to assist MPs. This is insufficient. I hope that each MP can be provided with a full-time researcher and staff/office assistant, allocation to carry out small projects/programmes/activities, or constituency development funds [from the federal government, which] opposition MPs are denied.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
I will support a Freedom of Information Act. This will enable the public to have access to information that affects them, except on matters of national security. The governing process will be more transparent, and government can be held accountable and checked on at all times by the public.
Accessible information will also allow the public to make an informed choice about the political party [they want] to represent them.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
I will have select committees. These committees are pertinent in ensuring that proposed bills by the executive are properly consulted, discussed and studied before they are debated and passed in the House. This process is important because once a bill is passed, it becomes law that governs or affects citizens.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
Certainly. The application of this doctrine of separation of power between the three institutions will provide check and balance in the exercise of power and functions. For example, if the executive abuses its power, an independent judiciary is available for the public to seek redress and get a fair trial.
Also, opposition MPs would be able to effectively play their role in scrutinising the executive’s policies and functions in Parliament if there is separation of power. At present, the Speakers and the two Deputy Speakers are all from the governing party.
For other MP responses, see Full MP list
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