Backbenchers: Make Parliament independent


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 06 Mar 2005

KOTA KINABALU: Barisan Nasional Backbenchers are again calling for an elevation of Parliament’s status as an independent body. 

At the launching of their retreat here yesterday, Barisan Backbenchers Club chief Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad said Parliament’s status should not be that of just another government department. 

“It is time for a rethink on whether the administration of Parliament should continue under the Prime Minister’s Department,” Shahrir said in his address at the launching of the Barisan Backbenchers retreat by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yesterday. 

He said it was improper that civil servants should decide financial allocations and other administrative matters of a body comprising elected representatives. 

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi arriving in Kota Kinabalu Saturday evening for dinner with the Backbenchers Club followed by a closed-door dialogue with club members. Today, the Prime Minister will join the MPs and Senators for a ‘gotong-royong’ at a primary school in Karambunai near the Nexus Resort where the backbenchers had their three-day retreat. Earlier before giving away prizes to winners at the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Malaysia charity golf tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Abdullah said the country had achieved a gross domestic product growth of 7.1% last year and he hoped it could attain higher growth this year with the help of the private sector. Abdullah also handed over RM30,000, the sum raised from the tournament, to Unicef Malaysia representative Gaye Phillips. — STARpic by NORMIMIE DIUN

“Parliament should be an independent institution,” Shahrir said, adding that the move would enable government officers to be seconded there to serve as assistants to MPs. 

In response, Najib said the proposal was a good one but involved a fundamental issue and he would have to discuss the matter with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. 

“If Parliament’s stature is upgraded and it has its own staff, I feel this will enable MPs to function more effectively,” Najib added.  

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