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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

'Keep seat-warmers out of senate'

The senate is not a place for either seat-fillers or seat-warmers, says Dewan Negara president Abu Zahar Nika Ujang.

NONE"Make sure you fill the seats with intellectuals capable of debate. Don't just fill the seat for the sake of filling a seat," he told a forum in Parliament House today.

Abu Zahar (left) said senatorial posts should not be doled out to politicians who, for any reason, are not elected or cannot contest.

His remarks came during a discussion on 'Strengthening parliamentary democracy and human rights compliance in Malaysia', organised by the association of ex-human rights commissioners (Proham).

The global political situation is changing as he had observed from his visits all over the world, said Abu Zahar, and we too must change.

“Our government needs to change,” he stressed.

However he believes that change must come in the proper way, via discussions and proactive round table discussions like the forum, coming up with a collective agreement on coordinated reforms that is devoid of bias, prejudice and partisan dictates.

This he explained, is necessary to ensure that change is fair to all and is done across the board without fear or favour.

Abu Zahar also reminded the forum that all changes require the cooperation and mechanism of the present system, of Parliament, which is required to pass new laws or repeal old ones.

Empowering the system

As such change must be done by empowering the system.

Though he admitted that the system may not be perfect, he said that there is always room for discussion and debate in order to make sure the system works, as long as the approach taken is fair, practical and not based upon emotions.

azlan“We must ask ourselves, as Malaysians what type of government we want for ourselves and don't look back,” Abu Zahar urged.

Though he cautioned that either in making sure senators are intellectuals capable of debate or empowering change, the important thing must be the education of our youth and society at large.

“Political education is important. Lack of knowledge is not good for our future,” he warned.

The Dewan Negara has been long mired with accusations of being the dumping ground for failed politicians and senatorial seats as rewards to those who have pleased the powers that be, a tarnish that the new batch of mainly Pakatan-appointed senators and Abu Zahar have been vocally challenging of late and moving to try and alleviate.

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