Dewan Negara appears to be a place for government or party cronies, says Aziz Bari, after appointment of six Umno leaders as senators.
PETALING JAYA: Criteria for appointments to the Dewan Negara seem to have deviated from the objectives outlined in the Federal Constitution, a law expert said, noting that it is now a place for government or party cronies.
Dr Abdul Aziz Bari said the Dewan Negara, as the second chamber of Parliament, was for members of society who could not be elected to the Dewan Rakyat.
And this, he said, included representatives of minority groups like the Orang Asli, pensioners or professional groups.
But Aziz pointed out that the Dewan Negara now appears to be a place for government or party cronies.
He said this in response to the appointment of six Umno leaders, including Umno Youth vice-chief Khairul Azwan Harun, to the Dewan Negara .
DAP national vice-chairman Teresa Kok said it was illogical and unacceptable for the government to appoint Azwan after his allegedly “racist” speech at the Umno Youth gathering during the party’s general assembly.
On Nov 30, during the gathering, Azwan warned the Chinese of a possible backlash should they continue to reject Barisan Nasional.
Kok, the Seputeh MP, also urged the government to make known the criteria for the appointment of senators.
Aziz said Dewan Negara members were suppose to revise Bills passed by the Dewan Rakyat and speak up for the minorities.
“But senators are also appointed to become Cabinet members. It no longer represents the ideals of the second chamber,” he added.
Aziz said nothing much could be done unless there was a change in the Federal government and for the new administration to return to the spirit of the constitution.
The former law professor at the International Islamic University also wondered who would Azwan represent, going by the criteria set in the constitution for appointment to the Dewan Negara.
Shad Faruqi, the Emeritus Professor of Law at UiTM and a newspaper columnist, said senators represent geographical areas and special interests rather than voters.
Under Article 45, the Dewan Negara consists of 44 appointed and 26 indirectly appointed senators.
The 26 represent the 13 states in the Federation while the 44 are appointed by the Yang Di Pertuan Agong.
However, under Article 45 (2), the king appoints persons who “have rendered distinguished public service or have achieved distinction in the professions, commerce, industry, agriculture, cultural activities or social service or are representative of racial minorities or are capable of representing the interests of aborigines.” -FMT