Mid-year Report and Musings

Parliament Updates by Subang MP Wong Chen

In this article, I will discuss a variety of issues, namely the activities that have pre-occupied me, as your Member of Parliament (MP) in the last six months. As such, this article will be a sort of mid-year report card with the informality of a little bit of personal musings.

Firstly, I want to talk about Parliamentary reforms, the main focus of my P104 office. It is rather unfortunate to report that nothing substantial nor positive has changed on this front. In the March/April 2019 Parliament sitting, we did not manage to pass any pro-reform legislations. Ironically, we managed to stop the executive from tabling an amendment to the National Security Council Act 2016. We had promised to abolish this Act in our manifesto, so when the executive decided to strengthen it via an amendment, the backbench warned the executive that we will not support it. We also had high expectations to see the formation of 11 new select committees but the hope did not materialise due to lack of political will from the executive.

However, reformist minded MPs are not giving up, and in the coming July 2019 sitting, we hope to propose to the executive, a concessionary target of at least four new select committees. I find all these manoeuvrings to be hypocritical and somewhat dishonourable. Of late, Parliament has morphed into something of a negotiation arena, when in fact, it should be the torch for reforms. My personal view is still largely optimistic. All is not lost. If we remain constructively critical, we can still affect positive change in the new government.

Secondly, I want to report that I am actively attending my Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearings and housekeeping report writing meetings. In March 2019, working closely with YB Nurul Izzah, we managed to get the Prime Minister to back down on the controversy surrounding the PAC chairmanship. With the PAC headed by an Opposition MP, our work as an independent committee to fight corruption, abuse of power and wastage has taken a new rigorous bounce. In the last two months or so, we have had two cabinet ministers testify before the rejuvenated PAC. I absolutely believe that a fiercely independent PAC that is willing to query ministers, will have positive long-term impact on overall accountability of the executive. The PAC is just one select committee; imagine a Parliament with another 15 similar committees providing complete checks and balances.

Thirdly, it is true that I am somewhat discouraged by the re-emergence of dirty domestic politics. In facing the evaporation of political will for reforms, I decided in March 2019 to better use my time as your MP, by focusing more on regional and international policy issues. As such, I have been having a lot more meetings with diplomats in the last six months. I also frequently volunteer to help Parliament Malaysia in engaging visiting MPs from other nations. Most recently, I chaired the recent ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) working group on climate change. I have also been invited by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy to go to the United Nations in New York on 11th July as a speaker in a forum on SDG 16, Peace Justice and Strong Institutions. Basically, when faced with an immovable wall, you have to stop banging your head on it and find something more useful to do.

Fourthly, on the community front, I continue to attend community events on a regular basis, averaging five events every weekend. The Subang constituency is the second largest Parliament constituency in Malaysia, and I am still struggling to cover all the tamans and associations. Nevertheless, our office has been making steady progress on handling and resolving problems and complaints of our constituents. As our reputation as a professionally run office grows, we have been seeing a steady increase of constituents visiting us. Lastly, our biggest contribution in terms of community spending is the launching of our program to repair all 51 public schools in Subang in March 2019. This RM2.55 million program will see every single public school receive RM50,000 for structural repairs.

So that’s it for my summarised report of what I have been up to in the last six months. I want to wish the very best to all, for the remaining six months of 2019.