Pakatan mulls push for Senate elections

By G. Manimaran (Malaysian Insider)
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is considering a proposal to push for direct senatorial elections to elevate the status of the Dewan Negara as a significant part of the parliamentary process.
The proposal comes even as PR parties continue to search for a solution amid disagreements about their campaign promise to introduce local council elections if the coalition took federal power.
PKR vice-president Dr Syed Husin Ali said that PR was considering a proposal to have at least a portion of Dewan Negara seats filled through elections.
“I personally feel that the members of the Dewan Negara should be elected, and I have forwarded this proposal to the PR leadership.
“Even if they are not all elected, at least some of them should be,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
Syed Husin, 73, who recently took his oath to become a senator nominated by the Selangor PR government, acknowledged there was still a need for the federal government to appoint some senators who were not politicians so that certain Cabinet posts could be filled.
He said that any proposal to change how Senate seats are filled would require the federal laws to be amended.
But he pointed out that PR state governments should start giving their inputs on the issue to the federal government.
“I hope that the four state governments under Pakatan will do something, including giving their views to the federal government.
“We have to start doing something now to create awareness on this,” he said.
The Dewan Negara consists of 70 members.
A total of 26 senators are nominated by state assemblies while 44 are appointed by the King on the advice of the prime minister.
Senators hold the post for a three year term and can have a one-term extension.
On the proposal to revive local council elections, Syed Husin admitted there were concerns within all PR parties about the racial composition of those elected to be councillors.
During the recent PR convention, the coalition announced a commitment to local democracy, but did not spell out its total commitment to revive local council elections if it comes to power.