Press Release from Parliamentary Caucus for Multi-Party Democracy (3 August 2022): Unlocking the Power of the Dewan Rakyat Through Standing Orders Reform

Parliamentary Caucus for Multi-Party Democracy (Kaukus Parlimen Demokrasi Pelbagai Parti) calls for the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat to be empowered and enhanced. It is critical that amendments are made to the Standing Orders, given the weakness of current rules, regulations and parliamentary process that has weakened the role of Parliament as an independent, professional and effective legislative branch of government.

Today the Caucus is happy to launch a research report commissioned by The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH), entitled “Unlocking the Power of the Dewan Rakyat: The Rule Revisions Needed Now”, authored by Parliamentary Expert, Ms Maha Balakrishnan.

The Standing Orders reform is promised in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Transformation and Political Stability between the Government and Pakatan Harapan but yet unfulfilled. Therefore, we urge the political actors in the process, in particular the Government and the Dewan Rakyat to hasten the process of amending the Standing Orders before this Parliament is dissolved.

The following are the proposed reforms as contained in this research paper :

1. Management of motions of confidence and no confidence.

2. Control of parliamentary time and agenda by reducing government control over the parliamentary calendar, recognising the will of the parliamentary majority and improving certainty and consistency to complete the business of the House.

3. Improving opportunity structures for Private Member’s business (PMB) by creating specific weekly slots for PMB, ensuring fair and equitable disposal of business during Private Member’s time, reducing restrictions on Private Member’s motions and simplifying Private Member’s Bill process and detaching it from government control.

4. Enabling the public to petition Parliament by overhauling the parliamentary petitions process in the Dewan Rakyat, setting up both paper petition and e-petition systems, establishing an obligatory response mechanism and establishing a new standing Petitions Committee.

5. Improving the ability of parliamentary committees to operate independently for committees’ agenda, power on holding their hearings and how to publish reports, and issuance of guidelines for stakeholders such as power, witnesses’ obligations and protections and inquiry process.

The Caucus will be closely studying the proposals made by BERSIH in this report and where there is consensus among our members, we will seek to engage with the Standing Orders Committee, the House Committee, the Speaker’s Office and other heads of Select Committees, for the implementation of some of these proposals.

Meanwhile, we congratulate BERSIH and Ms. Maha Balakrishnan for a well researched report whose proposals, if adopted, would go a long way to unlock the Dewan Rakyat to fulfil its constitutional role as the legislative branch of government.

Released by,
Parliamentary Caucus for Multi-Party Democracy