55 MPs demand for 13 additional PSSCs
25 July 2021
By Wartawan Nabalu News
KOTA KINABALU: A total of 55 Members of Parliament (MPs) have voiced out their bid to set up 13 additional Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSCs) so that no MPs are left out in the national lawmaking and policymaking process.
President of the United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko) Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau said the setup is to ensure that all ministries can be effectively scrutinised.
The proposal was submitted by 55 opposition MPs, including MPs from Sabah and Sarawak, who are among 88 private MPs representing the opposition, and government backbenchers who are not members of any parliamentary committees.
"Parliament must not be treated as the steppingstone to be ministers and deputy ministers. Instead, while ministers and deputy ministers run the country full time, other parliamentarians must also be allowed to function full time in scrutinising the government.
"Even when the Parliament is not sitting to pass laws and debate over policies, private MPs must be allowed to perform their duty of legislative oversight through PSSCs.
"Each focusing on one ministerial portfolio or cluster, PSCCs can meet frequently throughout the year to investigate issues and conduct hearings of relevant citizens, civil society groups, businesses, and civil servants," he said in a joint press statement today.
The joint statement was signed by Madius along with 54 other MPs, namely Tawau MP Datuk Christina Liew, Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin, Putatan MP Awang Husaini Sahari, Sandakan MP Vivian Wong Shir Yee, Tenom MP Noorita Sual, and Keningau MP Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.
Apart from that, Pandan MP Datuk Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Iskandar MP Puteri Lim Kit Siang, Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng, Parit Buntar MP Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof, Pokok Sena MP Datuk Mahfuz Omar, Seremban PM Anthony Loke Siew Fook, Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, and Simpang Renggam MP Dr Maszlee Malik, among others, also signed the joint statement.
According to Madius, there are 30 ministerial portfolios with only 9 PSSCs that scrutinize 20 ministerial portfolios and lump many important portfolios in one committee.
He stated that with only nine PSSCs and a few MPs sit on multiple PSSCs, only 61 get to sit on the PSSCs and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
"This leaves behind 88 (40 per cent) parliamentarians with no Executive, House or committee responsibilities. If the number of MPs per PSSC is not increased, then the Parliament needs 13 more PSSCs to allow all MPs to contribute to policymaking.
"As the Parliament met for only an average of 70 days a year even in the pre-Covid years (2000-2019), this means that even when Parliament returns to the pre-Covid normal, we as part of the 40 per cent excluded parliamentarians, will be denied opportunities to provide legislative oversight on the Executive in 8 out of 12 months," said the Tuaran MP.
"How many talents with years of experiences and expertise of ours are put to waste when we are disallowed to function fully? Why are we paid RM 16,000 allowances a month but not allowed to represent the people to improve governance all year long? Why can’t at least 13 more PSSCs be set up so that all 88 of us can sit on at least one PSSC to provide legislative oversight throughout the year if we so choose?"
While the Parliament is not given enough resources to support more than nine PSSCs and even if each costs RM300,000 a year in secretarial support and other matters, he said 13 more PSSCs will only cost RM3.9 million.
"With the reopening of the Parliament, we urge the Government spearheaded by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to embrace the values of accountability, transparency, and participation in governance.
"Ministers, deputy ministers, and senior civil servants must treat opposition MPs and government backbenchers as partners by allowing every one of us to sit in at least one PSSC to help the respective ministry to perform better.
"By giving PSSCs the inquisitive power to search for better solutions in laws and policies, the Executive will get to better exercise its regulatory and allocative powers," Madius asserted.
The current nine PSSCs exclude or marginalise at least 14 ministerial portfolios, including those in charge of Sabah and Sarawak Affairs, foreign affairs, environment, housing, transportation, and human resources.
"The Selection Committee which decides on the number and composition of parliamentary committees should also be expanded to include more representatives from the Opposition bench, which currently has no representatives from Democratic Action Party (DAP), National Trust Party (Amanah), Sabah Heritage Party (Warisan), Homeland Fighter Party (Pejuang), United Sarawak Party (PSB) and United Kinabalu Progressive Organisation (Upko).
"We also urge the Government to allow all parliamentary committees to meet online so that they can meet as frequently as necessitated by circumstance and save on travel allowances for MPs attending committee meetings held when the Parliament is not in session."