(Source: parlimen.gov.my)Name: Teng Boon Soon
Years as MP: Since 2004
Government post: None
Johor MCA vice-chairperson
Tebrau division chief
Membership in parliamentary committee 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?
The ISA should be reviewed so that detention without trial will only be allowed for a reasonable period of time. This is to facilitate investigations and ensure that preventive measures can be taken.
In view of terrorism around the world, including in Malaysia, the ISA is still necessary to ensure citizens’ safety. But detention without trial, of course, cannot be accepted without restrictions or limitations.
Sometimes, to wait for a trial is too late and things can go out of control. The safety of citizens is of most importance.
Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?
Malaysia is a secular state now. Only certain quarters claim it’s an Islamic state, including some top leaders of the country.
Look at the constitution. It’s stipulated clearly that there’s freedom of religion. I think the status quo should remain. The country has been surviving well since 1957 with this constitution, so it should not be altered or meddled with unnecessarily.
Moreover, it is obvious this is a multireligious and multiracial country. So, we should remain as a secular 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 MP, we are more or less a communication agent between the government and the electorate. We communicate both ways. On one hand, we convey the people’s views and daily problems to the government. This is the same irrespective of whether [we] are in the ruling party or in the opposition. At the same time, we help to educate the people about government rules and regulations.
We also have a duty of safeguarding the people’s fundamental rights. There are certain fundamental rights that cannot be taken away by those in power. If certain practices are unconstitutional, then we have to expose them proactively. If there is any kind of administrative or legislative abuse, this needs to be criticised in Parliament.
We also play a constructive role in helping to improve the implementation of government policies. There may sometimes be abuses by civil servants in implementing government policies which may go against the actual spirit of the policy as intended by the legislators. The MP will have to intervene in such instances.
In terms of parliamentary support, it is still limited. The allowance provided is insufficient to meet an MP’s minimum needs. For example, we are given allowances for a driver, but the allowance is not sufficient to employ a full-time driver, in view of a wakil rakyat’s irregular hours.
If Parliament provides us with a paid driver and secretary, then the wakil rakyat will be able to do a more efficient job. We also need a skeleton staff to assist at our service centres.
This needs to be provided irrespective of whether an MP is in the ruling party or opposition because they are all representing the people. If we only provide allowance for ruling party MPs, what about the interests of the people who disagree with the ruling party? They have the same rights and they deserve protection equally.
Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?
Of course. I would strongly subscribe to a Freedom of Information Act. It’s a good thing. Provided it is adhered to honestly and not abused or used to trespass into people’s privacy. Certain areas such as national security should also not be [generally accessible].
If it is done for the people’s interests at large, we should give our blessing. We would oppose it if used only for sustaining political power.
If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?
I would strengthen parliamentary democracy by subscribing to and practising democratic principles in day-to-day words and deeds and in our attitude toward the rakyat. We cannot say one thing and then do another thing. Or if we say something which reflects racialist views and thinking, that is not democratic.
We must make sure we stick to our principles in our words and daily sayings, in parliamentary speeches and in our dealings with the multiracial people on the ground. Also, when we serve the people, we should do so whether or not they voted for us, or whether they’re going to vote for us. We should only be concerned about whether they need help.
We should just play a simple, straightforward role of a wakil rakyat irrespective of what racial or religious group our electorate belongs to, or which party they support.
Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?
Of course. That is how democracy survives. The separation of powers is fundamental for the survival of a democratic system.
For other MP responses, see Full MP list
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