KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 10, 2016:

The G25 movement of eminent Malays have proposed the setting up of Parliamentary Select Committees to ensure good governance and maintain Malaysia’s image as a well administered country.

The group said this was in wake of recent developments, especially the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) controversy which had prompted it to issue several public statements to remind the authorities of the need to uphold and respect the independence of our public institutions.

The movement also reminded the government bodies involved to carry out their functions under the Federal Constitution and the respective legislation.

The group, in a statement today, also proposed that Parliament carry out its oversight function on a regular basis through the establishment of Parliamentary Select Committees.

It said this was consistent with the doctrine of separation of powers implicit in the Federal Constitution, and the imperative need for proper and effective checks and balances to safeguard public interests against the abuse of power.

“The current oversight role by Parliament takes the form of raising questions during question time and debating issues, and monitoring by Parliament on financial matters through the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

“The quality of the discussions is dependent on the extent civil servants are able or willing to respond to the queries raised by MPs and the PAC.

Further, the PAC generally is confined to reports on financial management.

“We always note with dismay from the reports that Ministers who might have misused their powers in the decision making process are not called upon to testify on the scandals in which they are either involved in or held responsible,” the group said, citing committees in developed countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom which had ensured transparency and accountability by all levels of government.

The group said select committees are particularly useful when Members of Parliament want to investigate something rather than merely debating on it.

“In a brief guide on the role and functions of select committees issued by the United Kingdom’s House of Commons, a select committee comprising cross-party group of MPs or Lords is given a specific remit to investigate and report back to the House that set it up.

“The committees gather evidence from ministers and officials, the public and organisations outside Parliament and their reports are published and the Government must respond to their findings.”,”

The parliamentary select committee system, it said, would entail operating costs which were necessary to help save billions of ringgit that otherwise would be lost through poor management in the ministries and departments or through unethical conduct of ministers and civil servants.

“Existence of these committees with authority to question any minister or Government official at any time, enables Parliament to make everyone holding decision making powers to be more responsible and accountable in his or her official or private life.

“Citizens will have access to fact-based testimonies by witnesses and independent professionals on issues of public concern, and will not need to only rely on social media reports which may be false, inaccurate and unfair to the Government.

“The select committee system is the best way for the Government to be transparent and be accountable and maintain its reputation. It is, therefore, in the interest of the Government to set up Parliamentary Select Committees to better govern the country,” it said.

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