The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) calls for the constitutional and democratic role of Parliament and state legislative assemblies to be acknowledged and enhanced in the process of formation of a government. It is critical that such steps be taken urgently, given the constant state of political instability since the 14th General Election (GE14) through the collapse of numerous state and federal governments.
BERSIH 2.0 today launched a research report entitled “Parliament in Government Formation: Enhancing Stability and Accountability Through Protocols on Confidence and Dissolution”. This report is commissioned by BERSIH 2.0 and written by Maha Balakrishnan. This report concludes, among others, that there is a lack of standardisation in determining the question of confidence in deciding the appointments and dismissals of prime ministers (PMs) and chief ministers (CMs); that there are no adequate institutional mechanisms of transparency and accountability over how heads of state discharge their roles; that the critical role of the legislature to confirm the question of confidence is not concretised institutionally and behaviourally; and that the role of and reliance on heads of state on appointments and dismissals of PMs and CMs has expanded over time partly because legislatures are too weak to assert their role.
Therefore, we urge the political actors in the process, in particular the government and Dewan Rakyat to commit to reforming Parliament’s institutional powers as the ultimate medium to maintain the stability and accountability in a healthy democracy. The following are the proposed reforms by BERSIH 2.0 as contained in our latest research paper such as:
- Codification of Confidence and No-Confidence Procedures by statute and in the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat.
- The introduction of Investiture Votes in the Dewan Rakyat to confirm the confidence mandate in a newly appointed PM whether immediately after general election (GE) or during a parliamentary term.
- Ensure that any member of the Dewan Rakyat is entitled and empowered to move a motion to express the loss of confidence in the PM and to express confidence in another MP to become PM. Such motions should be processed and moved as a matter of priority over Government business, with adequate procedural checks in place to ensure the process is not misused.
- Statutory regulation of the PM’s power to ask for a dissolution of Parliament, to require a PM to obtain the approval of Parliament before he/she may request the Agong for a dissolution of Parliament for a snap election.
- Enactment of recall laws to restrict elected representatives from switching parties that can cause instability and ineffectiveness of a government.
The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0