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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Malaysia Parliament House

Friday 10 August 2007 was the first time I stepped into the Malaysia Parliament House to attend the Parliamentary Roundtable to reaffirm Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as the official religion and not an Islamic state (click BACK button to get back to this page). Took some photos to show how the Parliament House as seen from outside and part of the inside its compound. The top part of this post shall consist mainly of photos. The bottom part is the more important section of the post. Here is a view from outside:

Malaysia Parliament House from outside
Outside view of Malaysia Parliament House

This is the view of the tower block from the car park inside the compound:

View of the tower block of the Malaysia Parliament House from the Car Park inside the compound
View of Malaysia Parliament House Tower block from car park

It seems the Parliament house is divided into 2 blocks, the 18-storey tower block that you see in the photos above and the three-storey podium, housing the Senate and the House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat) behind it. Beside the main tower are some nice fountains and a photo of one of them is shown below:

Water fountain beside main tower

The Parliamentary Roundtable to reaffirm Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as the official religion and not an Islamic state (click BACK button to get back to this page) was held in the three-storey podium behind the main tower. To get in, we have to put our keys and digital camera in a basket and pass through a metal detector. We also have to surrender our identity card to get a visitor pass although if I am not wrong, it is against the law to hold the identity cards of visitors. Strange that such requirement is practiced in the house of the lawmakers when at the Citibank building tower, to get in, they only scan your identity card but give it back to you. Seemed to me Citibank is more law abiding than our law makers!

To get to the chamber where the Roundtable is held, we have to go through a long corridor pictured below:

Corridor to the chamber

This photo was actually taken after the Parliamentary Roundtable is over, and the figure on the left in the distance is Harris Ibrahim whose writings I have quoted in other parts of this blog. Alon the corridors are, among others, an indoor garden and a souvenir shop. Below is a photo of the indoor garden:

Indoor garden

At the end of the corridor, we had to climb the stairs to the first floor to the discussion chamber. Unfortunately, another group was occupying the chamber beyond their allotted time, and we had to wait outside. Here are some photos while we were waiting to get in:

Parliament Opposition Leader interviewed by Oriental Press reporter

Wonder if the report of the interview will ever get to see the light of day.

Well, those are some photos of the Malaysia Parliament House. The Parliament, according to Fulton, E. Davie. Progressive Conservative Member for Kamloops, B.C., Canada, exists for the purpose of controlling the executive, of holding it accountable and responsible in the fullest sense; and second, that Parliament is a representative institution to which the people have entrusted the task of acting for them with respect to this matter of controlling and giving consent to the proposals of the executive. There are supposed to be 3 branches of bodies to govern the affairs of a democracy. These three branches are the Executive, Legislative (Parliament or Congress), and Judicial branches. No one branch contains absolute power, rather, each branch is balanced off of the others creating a system of checks and balances to protect the principals of democracy.

However, it appear to many that this system of checks and balances have been broken down to quite an extend in Malaysia by the sheer majority of the Barisan (coalition) and the way the constituencies are divided. Malaysia has always been proud to proclaim to the world that there is power sharing among the races in Malaysia. However, the Barisan itself is dominated by UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) dominates the Barisan and dictate terms and the other parties appear to me to be there just to tag along. They are bound by the whip to vote for all proposals by the executives and to vote against any proposals by the opposition, irrespective of the merits of a proposal. The Barisan Members of Parliament are not allowed to vote according to concience. So what is the purpose of all debates and the shoutings when at the end of the day, result of the debate is irrelevant. The Parliament as it exist today appear to be nothing but a rubber stamp for the purpose of formalising the proposals of the Executive. It is my hope as a Malaysian citizen who was born here, bred here and intend to live out the rest of my life here that the situation will change and the Malaysia Parliament will one day become what it is meant to be, where meaningful debates are carried out, where no one is allowed to call another "stupid, stupid, stupid....." instead of rebutting a valid point brought up, and get away with it because the Speaker says such language is the norm, when Members of Parliament, irrespective of party, ruling or opposition, are allowed to vote according to conscience.

Regarding this issue of Malaysia being an Islamic state, the MCA or the Malaysia Chinese Association made a statement, and was promptly ordered by the UMNO youth to shut up. Now not a squeak on the issue from them. What is the role of the other component parties in the Barisan?

The Judiciary have been shackled from the day the former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir sacked the then Lord President Salleh Abbas in 1988 and the power of the judges to declare laws or executive actions ultra vires if they clashed with the Constitution was squashed. Now we have a subsevient Judiciary which is not independent, where the appointments of judges are controlled by the Executive.

Farish A Noor talked about what can happen in a weak democracy where a powerful few can rule by decree, and if the citizens don't wake up, this is the situation we will end up with if we do nothing and allow it to happen. BTW, there is further discussions of this at Poll: Is the world round or flat? Has important implications for Malaysia.

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