PETALING JAYA: A group of pro-democracy activists has called for a law to be enacted so that all MPs receive an equal amount of development funds for their constituencies.
The group, comprising six organisations, said today that a Constituency Development Fund Act should be brought to the year-end meeting of the Dewan Rakyat so that it could come into effect next year.
The group said there were many similar laws in other countries that could be used as a model by the Attorney-General’s Chambers in drafting the new law.
This law could be Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s legacy, said the group, which calls itself the Seed Community for a Professional Parliament.
The group urged Ismail to set a time-table for putting into effect the reforms he outlined last week. His proposals included a 10-year limit on the prime minister’s term of office, the introduction of a law to ban party hopping, and implementation of the voting age of 18.
Less than Muhyiddin’s offer
The group said Ismail’s proposals had diluted some reforms proposed by former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
Muhuyiddin had categorically offered to allocate the same amount to all MPs, regardless of party affiliation, and had pledged that opposition MPs would be given pro-rata adjustments for the remaining months of 2021, the group said.
Under current practice, development funds for government MPs are many times more than what opposition members receive. The funds are used at their discretion on constituency projects. Government MPs also receive funds for running their service centres.
“Ismail cannot offer less on constituency allocations as compared to Muhyiddin without undermining his ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ approach and his own credibility and sincerity as a leader for inclusion and stability,” the Seed Community said.
The groups said Ismail would damage his Keluarga Malaysia campaign if the offer of constituency allocations to opposition MPs were limited to those from parties who enter into a confidence agreement to support the government at crucial Dewan Rakyat votes.
“It would mean that Ismail’s ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ approach is not one based on fraternity but on a transaction and that ‘you are my brothers and sisters only if you support me’,” the group said.
MPs’ right to sit on parliamentary committees
The Seed Community said Ismail had watered down the membership of parliamentary special select committees to mere balance in membership between government MPs and the opposition.
“All MPs must be guaranteed their right to sit in at least one special select committee or on the public accounts committee if they so wish,” the group said.
The group said the opposition’s confidence agreement with the government should demonstrate Ismail’s full commitment to an expansion of special select committees, “which must be preceded with a re-organisation of the selection committee to be multipartisan,” it said.
Ismail had also diluted a proposal on the numeration and facilities to be provided to the opposition leader. They called for an express assurance of access to government information equal to that of a senior minister.
The group also called for immediate implementation of Undi18 (lowering the voting age of 18) without further delay, together with the implementation of automatic voter registration.
The Seed Community comprises the electoral reform group Bersih 2.0, Persatuan Pengundi Muda, Engage, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, Bait Al-Amanah, and the Institute for Political Reform and Democracy.
(First published by Free Malaysia Today, 12 September 2021: https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2021/09/12/make-it-law-to-give-mps-equal-allocations-pm-urged/)