PETALING JAYA: De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong, criticised by Bersih 2.0 today for saying there was no need for a Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQT) in Parliament, explained that there has been no request for it in writing.
As such, he said the government cannot deliberate on such a matter, adding that the onus is on MPs to present a motion on the matter and see that it is passed first.
“The MPs may want an allocated time to ask specific questions directly to the prime minister,” he told FMT.
“But that particular modus operandi that they want has not been made out to me in writing. So I can only second guess what they really want.”
Liew also noted Bersih’s concern that there is no guarantee or convention to compel future prime ministers from answering queries during the Minister’s Question Time (MQT) and the ordinary question time.
“Of course, it will be good if we can have the prime minister to answer specific questions like what is practised in the Westminster system in England,” he said.
“But this (request) has to come from MPs.”
Liew said that while he respected and acknowledged that Pakatan Harapan promised to have 30 minutes allocated for a PMQT every week the Dewan Rakyat was in session, it was not practical to do so now.
“The Dewan Rakyat speaker (Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof) and I have come to an understanding that it is not possible to have the PMQT for the July Parliament session, which starts on July 1,” he said.
Nevertheless, he said if an official request was made and brought to the Cabinet’s attention in the future, having a PMQT could become a reality.
As an example, he said he would present to the Cabinet tomorrow a written request to have a specific day for certain ministries and ministers to be in Parliament and answer questions put to them.
“So I hope the speaker brings it (a request for a PMQT) to the Cabinet for consideration because at the moment there’s nothing (on paper), it’s just talk,” he said.
Liew said Parliament’s Standing Order would need to be amended for this to be realised.
Earlier today, Bersih took Liew to task for saying that the MQT, scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays, was enough for now.
Liew had said Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad answered questions during MQT as well as the ordinary question time.
But Bersih disagreed with this line of reasoning.
“As chief executive of the Cabinet, the PM should be held to account directly and speak for the government in a special PMQT, especially under current laws where the PM holds so much decision-making powers,” the electoral watchdog said.