NOC not needed, reopen Parliament instead – Bersih

Electoral watchdog Bersih said a National Operations Council (NOC) government, as proposed by Dr Mahathir Mohamad to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, was not needed as it will further cripple the role of Parliament.

Instead of NOC, also known as Mageran, Bersih said Parliament should be reopened and empowered to fight Covid-19.

“We would like to state that NOC is a proposal that will cripple the role of Parliament as a platform for policy-making.

“With the proclamation of the emergency, the role of this third branch of government is already crippled when Parliament and parliamentary select committee (PSC) were not allowed to sit during this period.

“The most suitable platform to discuss the way forward for Malaysia to emerge from the Covid-19 epidemic and its impact on the socio-economy of the people is to reconvene the Parliament,” the Bersih steering committee said in a statement today.

Under the current emergency, all powers are centralised at the executive branch which means there is no need for them to answer questions raised by elected representatives, leading to a lack of effective checks against the executive, they added.

Just as the emergency did not succeed in improving the Covid-19 situation in Malaysia, Bersih warned that setting up an NOC government is “regressive”.

“Because once again, power will be centralised to certain individuals without check and balance system and involving all parties.

“NOC is redundant because what is important now is to end the emergency immediately so that the government and the opposition can play their roles,” Bersih said.

Parliamentary debates and PSCs can monitor and contribute ideas to improve government programmes related to Covid-19 such as the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP) and the Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV), they said.

Bersih suggested that the federal government take the example of the Perak government under Menteri Besar Saarani Mohamad, who managed to achieve cooperation with the opposition in the state, including providing equal constituency development fund (CDF) allocation to all assemblypersons.

“Confidence-and-supply (CSA) style models in Perak such as equal CDF, district action committees involving the opposition could be developed at the federal level by allowing PSCs to sit and check the government measure.

“The CSA should be announced publicly so that the people know what are the terms and reforms that have been agreed between the government and the opposition.

“We can get out of this pandemic safely if all parties join hands and work together honestly and earnestly,” Bersih said.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad revealed he had proposed the setting up of a NOC government, similar to the one in 1969, during his audience with the Agong on June 10. 

However, he had said he was sceptical the proposal would come to fruition.

(First published by Malaysiakini on 13th June 2021)