In-depth study on FTPA idea

Azalina: A fixed parliamentary term can ensure the continuous implementation of reform agendas and policies without disruption.

PETALING JAYA: An in-depth study will be done on the idea of a Fixed-Term Parliament Act (FTPA), says Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said following calls for a law to allow a sitting government to serve out its full five-year term.

In welcoming the proposal, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reforms) said that such a study will include an impact assessment, engagement with stakeholders, and a survey on public opinion.

“The comprehensive research findings will be used as a policy consideration by the Cabinet,” she said in a statement yesterday, adding that the study will be done by the Legal Affairs Division.

On Jan 13, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi renewed calls for the law, first proposed by civil society organisations, to stop the constant plots to oust the government by buying over MPs.

Commenting on Ahmad Zahid’s call, Azalina said that many countries practise a fixed parliamentary term with agreed timelines for elections to ensure political and economic stability.

“A fixed parliamentary term can also ensure the continuous implementation of reform agendas and policies without disruption,” she said.

Azalina denied it is a desperate move, adding that it instead reflectes the unity government’s commitment to respecting the electoral mandate and democratic processes, while ensuring political stability in a climate of geopolitical uncertainty.

Meanwhile, electoral watchdog group the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih) said an FTPA should be complemented with a slew of other laws and reforms such as the Constituency Development Fund Act and a parliamentary confidence mechanism.

The first will provide equal constituency development funds for all MPs regardless of political party, the group said.

The proposed confidence mechanism comprises the Constructive Vote of No-Confidence and the Confirmatory Vote of Confidence, where an incumbent prime minister can only be replaced if he or she loses the first, and there is an eligible candidate who wins the second.

Bersih added that an FTPA would not clash with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s constitutional powers to consent to the dissolution of Parliament as requested by the Prime Minister.

“The FTPA will not withhold the King’s prerogative to consent to the dissolution of Parliament if requested by the prime minister as stated in Article 40(2)(b) of the Constitution.

“Through the (FTPA), any practice involving a no-confidence motion in Parliament based on Article 43(4) of the Constitution has to be stated clearly so that any backdoor moves that are against the principles of parliamentary democracy will not happen again,” said Bersih.

It urged all political parties to put aside their differences and work to implement these reforms under a memorandum of understanding, similar to what occurred when Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob was prime minister.

“Such efforts are important to ensure national development and also improvements in the present political system that will benefit all.

“Therefore, Bersih is ready to be the mediator between the government and Opposition.

“Bersih suggests that all political blocs work towards efforts that will benefit the people and stop all political games that are detrimental to the future of the country,” it added.

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