Lam Thye hopes Ombudsman Bill will finally be tabled after mooted nearly 50 years ago

PETALING JAYA: “Better late than never”. This was the sentiment of social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye on the proposed setting up of the Ombudsman.

"It has been a long time coming since the proposal to set up the Ombudsman system was first mooted about 50 years ago by the late Tun Abdul Razak when he was prime minister.

"It is hoped that the Bill to set up the Ombudsman will be tabled and passed by Parliament by the end of this year," he said when contacted on Thursday (May 11).

Lee, who was MP for Bandar Kuala Lumpur in 1974, said that Tun Abdul Razak was keen to see the Ombudsman system here based on the New Zealand model.

"However, due to bureaucracy and other issues, it was decided that a Public Complaints Bureau (PCB) would be set up instead and it has been in existence ever since," he said.

Although there is the PCB, he said the body is ineffective in resolving public complaints against maladministration by government departments and agencies.

"The PCB would write to the departments or agencies about complaints of maladministration against them.

"However, their response would usually be very defensive," he added.

On Monday (May 8), Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said that a Bill to set up the Ombudsman would be tabled in Parliament during its October meeting.

Azalina, who is in charge of law and institutional reforms, said the proposed Ombudsman would be an independent body answerable to Parliament.

Her announcement comes after a recent suggestion by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that he wanted an independent body to handle public complaints of maladministration against government departments and agencies aimed at improving the delivery system.

Meanwhile, he said an independent Ombudsman system would be the best platform to address issues of maladministration by government departments and agencies as many Commonwealth countries have since implemented the system.

Lee, who is founder of Alliance for Safe Community, suggested that a retired judge or retired senior government officer could be appointed as Ombudsman.

He also said that the Ombudsman should report its findings to Parliament and allow MPs to debate on it aimed at improving the delivery system for the rakyat.

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