Perikatan should be vocal

PETALING JAYA: Perikatan Nasional should be vocal in its check and balance against the unity government, say analysts.

Besides the Malays’ special position, analysts hoped that the coalition, which had campaigned on a conservative agenda, would counter policies that may not be good for the country.

Dr Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said Perikatan could be more than a quiet Opposition with both of its main component parties, Bersatu and PAS, being vocal.

“Under a parliamentary system of government, it is conventional to have a robust Opposition that could provide effective checks and balances against the excesses of the government,” he said.

Political pundit Dr Tunku Mohar Tunku Mohd Mokhtar of the International Islamic University Malaysia said it looks like Perikatan would be the sole Opposition at the moment.

“With 73 MPs, it will help provide check-and-balance on the government.

“Beyond Malay’s special position, we hope that Perikatan can also be effective in countering the government’s policies that may not be beneficial.

“It should present a shadow Cabinet for the people to see alternatives to government’s policies,” he said.

In another statement, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) notes with some concern remarks by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that he is not considering the role of the Finance Minister.

“He should not for a moment consider it as it would totally remove any semblance of check and balance in the inner sanctum of his own Cabinet,” added the electoral watchdog’s steering committee.

It welcomed Perikatan chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s decision to remain as Opposition and for rejecting Anwar’s offer to be part of his unity government.

“Bersih calls on Anwar’s government to enable the formation of a shadow Cabinet for the Opposition with commensurate salary, resources and information access for its shadow ministers.

“Every ministry will be scrutinised by only a shadow minister who would be paid half the ministerial salary and provided policy staff but no other perks,” it added.

The group said there should also be a parliamentary select committee, which should be filled by both government and Opposition backbenchers.

It added that the committee should have its own policy staff for each ministry. This, it said, would further strengthen scrutiny.

It also wants the passing of the Parliamentary Services Act to be expedited so that the resources for these additional committees and shadow Cabinet can come direct from Parliament instead of the Finance Ministry.

“Standing Orders in the Dewan Rakyat have to be amended to reduce government control of the agenda and time, improving opportunities for Private Member’s business, empowering PSSC (Parliamentary Special Select Committee) to act more independently and the management of confidence votes,” it said.

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