‘Time for lawmaking reform’

PETALING JAYA: Civil society organisations and human rights advocates have called upon Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to reform the country’s law-making process.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, the groups offered six solutions.

The first is to speed up the process of identifying legislation for amendments or creating new ones.

This can be done by using online platforms as this would allow nationwide engagements where stakeholders and the public can be included in the discussions.

“We can take a leaf from the process of Taiwan’s digital democracy which has broad citizen participation and is fast and fair.

“The government there has an online platform where anyone can file a petition.

“Petitions that gather at least 5,000 signatures are attended to by dialogue with relevant ministries to explore ways to incorporate it into policymaking,” the groups said in their letter yesterday.

Among the signatories of the open letter are groups and representatives from the National Early Childhood Intervention Council, the OKU Rights Matter Project, Suhakam, Women’s Aid Organisation, Vanguards4Change, Sisters in Islam and Association of Women Lawyers.

The groups said the government needs to have an ongoing, transparent and comprehensive feedback mechanism to garner input for any proposed legislation or amendments to legislation.

They also urged Putrajaya to follow the United Nations standard of “Open Calls for Expressions of Interest” (EOIs) to civil societies, advocates and the public to become members of any working groups or task forces to draft legislation or amendments.

Additionally, the groups said the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) must not be the sole and final arbiter of any legislation drafted.

While they appreciate the AGC’s important role, the groups said the agency must also respect the work of those entrusted with drafting the legislation by recognising the need to revise laws to be in line with the aspirations of international conventions that Malaysia has ratified.

“The final Bill, when tabled in Parliament, should be made available to MPs at least two weeks prior to it being discussed to enable time for them to digest the contents and have consultations with others.

“Finally, we need to develop and implement a new approach to decision-making that places children’s needs, wishes and outcomes at its heart, and involve children and young people every step of the way, including in the legal reform process.

“The same applies to women and the disabled,” they said.

They appealed to Anwar to make law reform efforts a reality.

“As we aspire to create a society of respect and trust, it must start with the government and the civil service respecting and trusting the people,” they added.

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