Joint Statement By Pakatan Harapan:
The Speaker and the Law Minister must make the necessary amendments to the Parliamentary Standing Order(SOs) in order to empower and confirm the rightful authority of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee Committees (PSSC) to carry out proceedings once needed to ensure accountability and transparency of government and adherence to the principles of separation of power.
This is referring specifically to the need to amend Parliamentary Standing Order 83(4) which reads;
(4)The deliberations of a Select Committee shall be confined to the matter referred to it by the House and any extension or limitation thereof made by the House, and, in the case of a Select Committee on a Bill, to the Bill committed to it and relevant amendments.
Some quarters are now interpreting the current standing order to mean that, technically the PSSCs could only function only if a subject matter was referred to the committee by the House, which by convention requires the Minister to refer a matter specifically to the PSSC or a motion tabled in the House. This interpretation is contrary to current practice and the objectives behind the formation of the PSSCs, as well as to international best practices. It of course will also limit the scope and mandate of our PSSC and open a risk of it possibly being abused especially when the Minister or members of the Executive do not want to be accountable and avoid appearing before the committee especially when it involves a sensitive subject matter.
This provision has been used in the past as justification for certain Minister and high-ranking public officers to avoid appearing before the Committee.
That is why this provision MUST BE AMENDED on top of an official guideline to ensure that the interpretation of any Order of Reference of the PSSC or whether certain subjects are within the scope of their Order of Reference is a matter for that the Committee to resolve, and it is not necessary to obtain clarification or approval of either the House or the Minister concerned with the matters being or intended to be deliberated.
We are grateful that in our consultation between the Speaker of the House Tan Sri Azhar Harun, the Law Minister YB Dato Sri Dr Haji Wan Junaidi, they expressed their intention to uphold the role and responsibility of the PSSC to keep the Government accountable and also expressed their intention to amendment the said Standing Order. In our consultation they decided to refer these amendments to the Parliament House Committee and the MOU Steering Committee to discuss before amendments are agreed upon.
However, a clear timeline wasn’t provided for the needed amendments. That is why we urge the Speaker as well as the Law Minister under Standing Order 90(2) to allow a motion in the House as soon as possible to get agreement of the House to SUSPEND Standing Order 83(4) in lieu of the upcoming amendments so that all PSSC are not handicapped in our responsibility to carry out our duties while waiting for the necessary amendments.
On top of that other important amendments including amending Standing Order 83(2) for the committee to have the discretion to decide the format of meeting or inquiry that we intend to have, 83(5a) to allow the PSSC meetings to be held virtually or hybrid and also 83(9) to strengthen our authority to decide the witnesses, documents and papers it intends to examine for purposes of deliberations and inquiries and whether they should be invited, requested or summoned.
Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution bin Ismail
Chairman of Special Select Committee on Agriculture And Domestic Trade
MP for Kulim Bandar Bharu
Dato’ Johari bin Abdul
Chairman of Special Select committee on Security
MP for Sungai Petani
Dr.Maszlee bin Malik
Chairman of Special Select Committee on Education
MP for Simpang Renggam
Dr.Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen
Chairman of Special Select Committee on Health, Science And Innovation
MP for Bandar Kuching