Tuesday, February 16, 2010

IPOH Barat Member of Parliament (MP) M Kulasegaran responds to the MP Watch: Eye on Parliament project, which asks all 222 MPs six questions.

Would you support the abolition/review of the Internal Security Act (ISA), in particular the provision that allows for detention without trial? Why or why not?

I fully endorse the abolishment of the ISA. Detention without trial violates the fundamental democratic principle that every person has a right to a fair and open trial.

Passed in 1960 as a law intended to deal with the communist threat, the ISA has long been used against a host of offences unrelated to "communist threats", or, for that matter, to internal security. More than five decades later, it continues to be used to trample on Malaysians' human rights and to stifle legitimate political dissent and democratic voices.

Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?

The framers of the Federal Constitution [considered] Malaysia a secular country. The social contract we entered [into] when Malaysia was formed in 1957 was based on secular principles.

We must bear in mind that Malaysia is a multiracial country. Hence Malaysia should be a secular country, where the justice, freedom and equality pursued by the people is based on and is compatible with the principles of democracy, and not an Islamic state.

How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfill your role?

As an MP, my role is to be the voice of the people inside and outside Parliament. My responsibilities will include debates on government policies and solving the people's grievances and problems. As an opposition MP, I am expected, in particular, to be a watchdog of the government's policies.

Parliament should provide more assistance to MPs in terms of full-time researchers and allocating funds to carry out minor development in our constituencies.

Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?

Yes, I fully support the FOI Act. In a democracy, [we are answerable to the people], and their right to know must be respected. FOI encourages openness and transparency, and hence, accountability. Transparency will help in preventing or minimising governmental corruption and abuses of power.

If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?

To go all out to engage fellow Malaysians from all walks of life to enhance their awareness of, commitment to, and participation in the democratic process and in political development.

Do you believe in separation of powers between the government, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?

I certainly do. There can be no true, vibrant and healthy democracy without separation of powers to act as a check and balance on the three branches of power, namely the executive, the Parliament and the judiciary.

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