Press Statement (25 June 2019): Prime Minister’s Questions Time is Crucial to Check Executive Powers

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) refers to the statement made by Law Minister Liew Vui Keong that there is no need for the Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQT) in Parliament as the Minister’s Question Time (MQT), scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays, is enough for now.

We wish to remind the Law Minister that in the Pakatan Harapan Manifesto (Promise 16) that 30 minutes will be allocated for PMQT in the Dewan Rakyat every week, as part of the promise to restore the dignity of the Parliament. 

While the Prime Minister can use the MQT to take questions and the current PM does use it, there is no guarantee or convention to compel future PM from doing so. As chief executive of the cabinet, the PM should be held to account directly and speak for the government in a special PMQT, especially under current laws where the PM holds so much decision-making powers. 

Of utmost priority for the PH government is the restoration of the independence and strength of all branches of government and public institutions so that we do not have a repeat of the kind of Prime Ministerial abuse of powers and corruption that we witnessed previously. 

Having PMQT would not only be substantive in that it allows MPs to question the PM on key national issues but also symbolic of the New Malaysia where there is competency, accountability and transparency even at the highest level of government. 

We call on the Law Minister to reconsider his position and amend the Standing Order of Parliament to implement PMQT as promised in the Buku Harapan in order to make the Parliament a strong institution to check executive powers. 

Issued by, 

BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee