KINABATANGAN Member of Parliament (MP) Datuk Bung Moktar Radin’s response to the MP Watch: Eye on Parliament project, which asks all 222 MPs six questions.
Name: Bung Moktar Radin
Years as MP: Since 1999
Government position: None
Supreme council member
Kinabatangan division chief
Membership in parliamentary committees or caucus:
Inter-Parliamentary Union member
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?
Let us see what will be tabled by the ministry, and if the amended Act really convinces me, then I will support it. I say that because what we have actually said to the ministry is that we do still need the ISA. Just that we feel it should not apply to politicians and others. We should apply the Act to those who are real terrorists, those whom we feel will create problems for the country. Then that is proper and I would agree to that.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
Even at this moment we are neither an Islamic state nor are we secular. We have been administering the country our own way, so I think there is no necessity for us to declare whether this country is Islamic or secular. There is no point. Of course Islam is the official religion, but we are not an Islamic state.
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfill your role?
As a member of the Barisan Nasional, of course the government provides us with funds, though not for infrastructure. And let us look at the Members of Parliament in the Philippines or Indonesia, for example. In Indonesia, every single MP has around seven personal assistants and researchers. In the Philippines, they have four. Here we do not even have one.
That is actually quite a problem because as MPs, we are trying to implement what we plan well. So I hope that the government will see it fit to provide MPs with full assistance so we can then do our jobs better.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
Of course I would support that. But it would depend on the angle and issue.
The thing about our reporters or people who deal in communications is that we give them freedom, but they choose to talk about somebody’s life. For example, they highlight somebody’s marriage and all that, but this is somebody’s private life. What I mean is that I support [freedom of information if] it is to do with any issue involving the people.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
I think first things first, the ruling government should consider setting up proper committees for Parliament. I think it is only in Malaysia that we do not implement the committee system. For example, in countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, the UK and the US, they follow this system.
So let us say this particular ministry wants to propose a budget. It has to go through a proper committee. Then if the committee is satisfied, the budget would be approved. But here, from the beginning until now, we have this system that nobody dares to change.
Therefore when it is time for [debating] the allocations, the debate is only in Parliament and we have no say. As a lawmaker, we have no say as to how to put the budget together.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
Of course. That is why I would propose setting up those committees. Everything should be separate. In this country we are under three bodies — the government, the judiciary and Parliament. I would not say Parliament is being overshadowed, but now it is not really what we want. Parliamentarians are actually lawmakers, so they should be respected, but now it looks somewhat like the executive is all powerful.
For other MP responses, see Full MP list
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If you do not wish to be in the limelight, then don’t run for public office and don’t be in the limelight for other matters. Simple! You can’t choose what is private and what is public once you are there!
Kong Kek Kuat says
“Of course I would support that. But it would depend on the angle and issue.
The thing about our reporters or people who deal in communications is that we give them freedom, but they choose to talk about somebody’s life. For example, they highlight somebody’s marriage and all that, but this is somebody’s private life. What I mean is that I support [freedom of information if] it is to do with any issue involving the people.”