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Saturday October 15, 2005

Parliamentary Services Act for House autonomy

KANGAR: The Government has agreed to re-enact the Parliamentary Services Act 1963 to ensure that the institution is not influenced by any party. 

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad said the existence of the Act would enable Parliament to function without any interference. 

“The Government realised that Parliament members wanted the institution to be free from influences,” he told reporters after handing out Raya goodies at the Repoh mosque here yesterday. 

He was commenting on the call by backbenchers and opposition MPs to “revive” the Act which was abolished in 1992. 

The Act provided for the administrative functions of Parliament and its staff to be totally separate from the executive arm of the Government. 

Barisan Nasional Backbencher Club chairman Datuk Shahrir Samad said the Act would enable Parliament to get independent personnel service. 

The current arrangement was extremely bureaucratic and created the impression that there was executive interference even when there was none, he added. 

Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang said a committee comprising representatives from all sides should be formed immediately to come up with a Bill. 

“Now, let us show that we can get things through in an efficient manner by getting it enacted before the end of this meeting at the end of this year. 

“Alternatively, since there is already the old Act, it could be tabled for the first reading immediately,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the Senate’s House Committee recommended that a new law to guarantee the independence of Parliament be drafted. 

It also called for all moves to change the administrative structure of Parliament be stopped. 

Announcing this, Senate President Tan Sri Dr Abdul Hamid Pawanteh said the recommendation was agreed upon when the committee met yesterday. 

“The recommendation will now be tabled as a motion in the Dewan Negara when it meets in December,” he told a press conference. 

Dr Abdul Hamid said the need for an Act to replace the Parliamentary Services Act had been discussed in an earlier committee meeting in May when the matter first came up. 

He said the committee had found the need to meet over the “strange developments” which took place in Parliament and had agreed that they were caused by the repealing of the Act. 

Among other things, the Act would ensure that Parliament staff is independent of the Public Services Department and that the Parliament Secretary – a post which is provided for by the Federal Constitution – is the head of Parliament’s administration. 

The controversy started when Nazri proposed the setting up of a new position to take over the administrative duties of the Parliament Secretary. 

On Wednesday during Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat, when a similar call for a new Parliamentary Services Act was raised, Nazri said he could not convey the wishes of the MPs because the proposal had not gone through the Dewan Rakyat House Committee.  


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