PUTRAJAYA: Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today questioned the role of the Parliament, describing it as “dysfunctional”.
He said it had deviated from its role of making legislation, representation (acting on behalf of voters and citizens), scrutinising the government and forming it.
“Parliament has not been carrying out its function accordingly. It seems like it exists just for show. If we depend on the majority, there is no need for debates because there are sufficient votes. That needs to be corrected.
“That is why Parliament needs to be bipartisan, especially when it comes to the appointment of very high posts in the government. We want to welcome the opposition for fair debates.
“Right now, these top appointments are dependent on the prime minster alone, where he would report to the king, and the king has no other point of reference,” he told a press conference at the Perdana Leadership Foundation.
He said a bipartisan parliament was needed to ensure democracy, and that the establishment of a bipartisan parliamentary select committee would ensure that matters such as senior appointments would be debated and handled fairly.
Mahathir was referring to the extension of the terms of Raus Sharif and Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin as chief justice and president of the Court of Appeal respectively. Their appointments, past the constitutional age limit, were met with protests from the legal community.
Following the announcement by the Prime Minister’s Department, the Malaysian Bar voted at an extraordinary general meeting to mount a legal challenge against the duo’s appointments.
Mahathir said: “We will change this. Every candidate will be interviewed in Parliament.
“With regards to the prime minister, the limit of a prime minister in office should be set at two terms. When a prime minister is too long in power, he will start abusing his power. Not all, but some of them do.”
He added that the speaker had been given too much power and could be appointed from outside of Parliament.
“The speaker must come from among the MPs,” he said. “He must not be allowed to do as he pleases.”
Asked if he had plans to amend the Federal Constitution in order for these changes to take place, Mahathir said amendments should only be done where necessary.
“If there is a choice, of course we don’t want to amend the constitution because that would need a two-third majority. During my time, I followed the law,” he said.