KUALA LUMPUR: Several Members of Parliament from various political parties have banded together to set up a multi-party caucus to push for parliamentary reforms.
The 13-member Parliamentary Caucus for Multi-Party Democracy was launched in Parliament on Wednesday (July 20) with MPs representing nine political parties including an independent.
"Both sides (government and opposition MPs) want to see a more level playing field in Parliament.
"The rakyat wants to see that MPs function fairly irrespective of which side of the fence they sit on," Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said told reporters during the launch of the caucus in the Parliament complex on Wednesday.
She said that the caucus would support the efforts to reform Parliament and serve as a reminder to the existing parliamentary committees to follow through on actions that are needed towards this goal.
Being more of an informal body, Azalina said that the caucus would not be bound by the rigid procedures that parliamentary committees have to follow.
"The caucus aims to encourage healthy and competitive democracy," the Pengerang MP added.
Azalina and Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah were appointed to head the caucus as co-convenors.
Meanwhile, Maria Chin said that the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) will serve as the secretariat for the caucus.
"Although we are a parliamentary caucus, there is no funding and that is why Bersih will be our secretariat," she said.
She added that among the issues to be tackled by the caucus include revision of Dewan Rakyat's Standing Orders, the introduction of a non-governmental time for backbenchers and facilitating the adoption of the Private Members' Bill.
"We also take note of the gender imbalance in the leadership in Parliament and that is important that both Houses should be well represented by women," she said.
She said that the caucus would engage with stakeholders, experts, civil society and media to better empower Parliament while strengthening democracy.
Bersih chairman Thomas Fann said that the caucus would meet at least once a month.
He noted that there are still many urgent reforms that needed to be put forward to the government.