KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 14): The landmark memorandum on political transformation and stability inked between federal and opposition leaders will expedite equal allocation for all Members of Parliament (MPs), anti-hopping laws, automated registration of voters from 18 years old, and a two-term limit for the prime minister.
These were among the transformations underlined in the memorandum of understanding (MoU), which spells the first-ever collaboration between government and opposition leaders in a bid for a political ceasefire to allow the nation to focus on addressing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Among others, the MoU will see Pakatan Harapan (PH) refraining from voting against government bills that could translate into a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaacob.
PH has agreed to support or refrain from being involved in (berkecuali) the voting of bills which could represent a vote of confidence on the government after the process of drafting the bill is negotiated and agreed in principle. These include the Budget 2022 bill and related supply bills.
The government, in exchange, has agreed not to propose the dissolution of Parliament before July 31, 2022.
It will also undertake all transformations that are agreed by both parties. A steering committee comprising five government MPs appointed by the prime minister and five opposition MPs will oversee the progress of the MoU, with meetings every two weeks.
The MoU, published on the Parliament website today, also underlined three groups of initiatives to be executed: i) immediately; ii) during the current Parliament session; and iii) during the next Parliament session.
The three measures to be executed immediately are:
- Equal allowances and allocations will be provided to government and opposition MPs, and for opposition leaders to be provided “relevant rights and facilities” to allow him/her to undertake the responsibilities more effectively.
- The MoU also underlines the restructuring of Parliament's Special Select Committees, including having a more balanced representation of government and opposition MPs.
- The parties will work towards potential amendments to the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat to facilitate smoother, more effective sessions.
Measures to be conducted in the current Parliament session include efforts towards exempting interest payment under the loan moratorium in the fourth quarter of this year (October to December 2021), covering recipients who are within the bottom 50% income group.
It also seeks to expedite purchase of six million Covid-19 vaccine doses scheduled for “early September”.
Additional allocation is to be channeled to improve Covid-19 case detection, contract tracing and isolate Covid-19-positive patients, as well as to increase intensive care unit (ICU) capacity and better coordinate placement of patients from public hospitals to private hospitals.
Meanwhile, the National Recovery Council to oversee the Covid-19 recovery plan must comprise experts from the public and private sectors. They could be nominated by the opposition (50%), as well as opposition MPs (25%) and government MPs (25%), according to the MoU.
It also includes the proposed increase in the ceiling of the Covid-19 Fund for the second time to RM110 billion from RM65 billion. These funds will partly be utilised to fund hiring incentives and for additional assistance to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), including informal groups and micro SMEs.
Other terms include to ensure the distribution of RM10 billion in cash assistance in the second half of the year (2H21), which will be further extended to 2022 for the bottom 40% income group (B40), including those categorised as hardcore poor, urban poor and the middle 40% (M40) group who have lost their income.
Other clauses to be executed by the next Parliament session are as the following:
- to table and pass the Anti Party-Hopping Bill;
- to ensure the Election Commission (EC) expedites automated registration of voters, where the minimum age is reduced to 18 years old;
- to impose a two-term limit (10 years) for the prime minister; and
- to table and pass a Bill related to Parliament services to ensure independence of parliamentary administration and finances.
The MoU also underlines the need to execute the terms of the 1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63). However, no details are given on the matter.
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