The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (BERSIH 2.0) applauds the Pakatan Harapan government for reshuffling the Prime Minister’s Department by placing the Election Commission (EC), the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the National Audit Department under the parliament.
This is indeed a crucial step for institutional reform by making them truly independent and reporting directly to the parliament.
However, merely changing the placement of these institutions is not sufficient. In order for this massive reform to take roots and be institutionalised, the respective enabling legislations of these institutions must be amended to reflect such changes at least in the following manner:
- The enabling legislations of these institution should have clear provision that they report directly to the parliament without having to go through the Prime Minister’s Department for vetting or approval. As of now, there is no provision in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 or the Election Commission Act 1954 that states the line of accountability of these two institutions;
- The reports of these institutions should be debated and approved, and not merely presented to the parliament, as in the case of SUHAKAM;
- The legal amendments should also provide for the budget of these institutions to come under the budget of parliament instead of the budget of Prime Minister’s Department. The fiscal independence of these institution from the executive branch is crucial to ensure politically motivated incidents such as the budget of SUHAKAM cut by half by the executive branch under Barisan Nasional regime will be prevented in future;
- The appointment process of members of these institutions should also be revamped to incorporate a more transparent, accountable and participatory process by the public and not merely by the executive branch. This would ensure the best candidates are chosen for the job;
- These independent institutions should be given power to recruit, suspend or sack their own staff.
Without institutionalisation these changes in law, this change of placement of the institutions under parliament based on administrative order may be reversed at any time.
BERSIH 2.0 urges all members of parliament to support such reform during parliament debate to strengthen our democracy.
Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0