Speaker wants to form eight new special select committees

KUALA LUMPUR: Eight new special select committees will be formed in Parliament to iron out any controversies or “disturbing elements” in new Bills or proposed amendments to laws before they are presented to the Dewan Rakyat.

These new committees, which will start in November if it is passed by the Dewan, will focus on fundamental liberties and constitutional rights; finance and economy; security; agencies under Prime Minister’s Office; agriculture and domestic trade; infrastructure development; education and health.

“Two others under consideration are women, children and social development; and science, technology and innovation,” said Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun in an interview.

He said the committees would be bipartisan with fair representation from both sides.

Azhar, who was sworn in as Speaker on July 13, explained that the committees would help ensure the law-making process would be more efficient.

He cited recent hot topics as examples, such as the contentious debate that arose over a PAS MP’s remarks about the Bible and alcohol consumption, and a suggestion to charge 20 sen for online purchases of between RM200 and RM1,000.

These special select committees would be able to “sniff” out any issue even before the tabling and they could call up the MPs to be questioned, he said.

He acknowledged that special select committees were something entirely new but he wanted to make sure MPs would perform their roles effectively.

Under his predecessor Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, Azhar pointed out that there were 10 special select committees.

“We will start with the eight. My predecessor had set up 10 during his time, but they were all based on issues.

“I decided not to continue with those as I feel that ministerial-based special select committees would be more effective as issues can be further referred to ministers and ministries for further action,” said Azhar.

Each special select committee would also be given staff members to handle administration and research work, he added.
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