(source: parlimen.gov.my)Name: S Manikavasagam
Party: PKR (Opposition)
Years as MP: Since 2008
Government post: None
Central leadership council member
Political bureau member
Public complaints bureau director
Membership in parliamentary committee or caucus:
Labour Caucus 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?
The ISA is presently an obsolete and irrelevant piece of legislation though it may have been practical and useful during the Emergency to contain the communist threat that was aimed at toppling the pre-independence government.
The ISA reflects lawlessness and is a serious abuse of human rights that deprives individuals of a fair and just trial. Therefore, the ISA is a piece of legislation that undermines the very principles of Parliamentary democracy through executive interference in the judiciary.
The ISA is also a powerful weapon for the ruling government to use against its political opponents by depriving Malaysians the right to voice out their views. In order to ensure Malaysia is governed “by the people, of the people, and for the people”, I would certainly support the ISA’s abolishment.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
The Federal Constitution recognises “Islam” as Malaysia’s official religion, and this is accepted by all. However, it doesn’t mean Malaysia is an Islamic state. To me, an Islamic state implies an Islamic type of government that [is] based on the principles of Islamic laws.
Because Malaysia has a plural society with various ethnic origins, different religions and cultures, it is impossible to subject all its citizens to the enforcement of Islamic laws only as it would be against the universal human right to practise one’s own religion.
It would be practical to subject Malaysia to common law and at the same time to let each ethnic group abide with their respective religious laws or practices. I do not believe that it is practical for Malaysia to be an Islamic state.
How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfil your role?
As an elected representative with limited resources, I’m duty-bound to ensure that:
- there are no flaws in the government’s delivery system;
- the people’s rights and dues reach them on time regardless of their political alignment;
- I am the rakyat’s voice in Parliament;
- each and every Malaysian’s human rights are upheld by our law enforcement agencies; and,
- I work within my income to assist the helpless and needy.
A Member of Parliament is elected by the people of his [or her] constituency. Thus he [or she] is obliged and duty-bound to look into their socio economic and welfare problems through the government’s administrative machinery, especially by Federal Government departments. However, as a member of the opposition, this is not easy as the [federal government] controls everything. Our rightful allocation is being withheld and channeled through federal government networks, denying opposition MPs the chance to decide what’s good for their constituents.
Parliamentary sittings always run out of time while answers given, especially written ones, are always out of topic and we are unable to counter them. When a sitting commences, there are a lot of books and reading materials given to us where [we have to read and make] decisions within a limited time. We have to depend on research done by our party or information provided by volunteers.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
I think we are behind time when it comes to freedom of information. Information is an economic mover now, the faster information moves the faster the country grows with a transparent and responsible government.
I will certainly support a Freedom of Information Act as long as writers, readers and users are accountable, responsible, and use it for a good cause or their own betterment.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
I believe parliamentary democracy in Malaysia can only happen when equal voice is given to both sides of the political [divide]. Parliament must also respect views voiced out by the opposition especially when it concerns the nation’s well being. I would like to see the prime minister and his entire cabinet sit and listen to the opposition’s views in Parliament.
Parliament must be mature enough to accept that each and every MP elected by the people of Malaysia is able to carry out their duties without any hindrance. There shouldn’t be any kind of discrimination against MPs in terms of support, recognition, financial allocations, and use of the government delivery system.
Do you believe in the separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
A democratic system empowers people to decide the best for their future by electing representatives to the Parliament. The separation of powers will only be effective when Parliament:
- decides the leader of the executive branch [who will] rule the country and who plays the watchdog role;
- decides the head of the judiciary to adjudicate legal disputes and interpret the law as it is meant to be; and,
- allows the separation of powers to act as check and balance when one branch overrules the other or dictates its fate and limits its independence.
For other MP responses, see Full MP list