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Friday, May 20, 2022

Bersih urges PM not to hold GE until various reforms carried out

Electoral reform group Bersih has urged Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob not to call for the next general election until the 14th parliamentary term ends in July 2023 to ensure adequate time to carry out various reforms he announced yesterday.

In a statement today, Bersih reminded all quarters that the 15th general election (GE15) need not happen this year, as speculated.

"Bersih welcomes Ismail Sabri's announced plan for reforms on strengthening governance, political finance, and separation of the attorney-general and public prosecutor roles, but we call on him to set a realistically comprehensive reform agenda that lasts until July 16, 2023, when the Parliament stands dissolved.

"Filling up the Parliament's remaining term with reforms is entirely possible as long as the prime minister does not seek early dissolution and the majority of parliamentarians invest their confidence in him," read the statement.

The group also outlined how reforms could be carried out after the expiry of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the government and opposition on July 31.

"Reform after July should be an all-party enterprise, not a bipartisan deal only between Ismail Sabri's administration and Pakatan Harapan.

"The road map of reforms before GE15 would be a multiparty effort to ensure fair play in and after GE15, and not just a confidence and supply agreement to preserve the current government.

"It should also formally involve the state governments to bring corresponding changes via the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

"It's time to ride on this multi-partisan momentum to advance checks and balances and accountability in our parliamentary democracy," Bersih said.

Four items yet to be delivered

Phase two of political transformation, they said, should include an equal constituency development fund law at both the federal and state levels.

They also called for a fixed term for Parliament to avoid early elections without two-thirds’ majority support of the House and provisions to ensure a minimum 30 percent women's representation.

Bersih also proposed for the government to consider capping the size of the cabinet and bar lawmakers from taking up salaried positions in statutory bodies and government-linked companies or being ambassadors.

"The 14th Parliament since October 2021 has been the most productive in delivering reforms, notwithstanding four items yet to be fulfilled," it said.

According to Bersih, the four items yet to be delivered were the Parliamentary Standing Orders Reform, Anti-Hopping Law (AHL) which is being studied, the prime minister's 10-year term limit, and the Parliamentary Services Act.

Yesterday, Ismail Sabri said the Special Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption agreed in principle to the proposed enactment of the Political Funding Bill, and the policy scope would be tabled to the cabinet soon.

He also said the National Good Governance Plan, to institutionalise good governance principles at all government agencies, including statutory bodies, will be introduced.

Ismail Sabri said the special committee also agreed for an in-depth study to be carried out on the separation of powers between the public prosecutor and the attorney general as it involves the Federal Constitution, laws, and financial implications. - Mkini

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