C4: “Why should MPs be remunerated for not performing their duties?

Coverage by: Focus Malaysia

Related News: https://focusmalaysia.my/c4-why-should-mps-be-remunerated-for-not-performing-their-duties/

THE Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) has applauded Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul’s suggestion to deduct the meeting allowance payable to MPs who fail to attend Parliamentary sittings.

According to the anti-graft watchdog, the meeting allowance should not be considered an entitlement but an assistive tool to facilitate MPs’ attendance in Parliament.

This allowance is provided for under Section 5 of the Members of Parliament (Remuneration) Act 1980 and set at the rate of RM400 per day according to Statute Paper 235 of 1983.

Based on a reading of the Hansard dated June 18, 1980 when the Member of Parliament (Remuneration) Act 1980 was debated, the increased salary and allowances for MPs was intended at the time to support less wealthy elected officials in performing their official duties and responsibilities.

“Of course, the continued relevance of this assertion over 40 years later is debatable, yet the principle is still applicable – financial standing must not be an impediment to any person wishing to be an elected MP,” said C4 in a statement today (Sept 4).

“Therefore, the continued provision of this allowance is useful, but if an MP does not perform the very purpose which the allowance is meant to support, there is no logical basis for them to receive the payment at all.”

Overlap of duties

However, C4 pointed out that it is imperative to also consider the bigger picture – that several MPs have reportedly voiced their concerns, stating that they may be absent from Parliamentary sittings due to other official duties within their constituencies or their involvement with government-linked companies (GLCs).

“This leads to a pressing question: should MPs – who are elected by voters to advocate on their behalf in the federal legislature on matters of national concern – be allowed to hold positions which impede that duty?” C4 asked.

“As it stands, there is nothing preventing an MP from also being an elected member of the state legislative assemblies, and numerous elected officials currently sit on GLC boards as well.

“(But) if these roles are preventing MPs from performing their responsibilities, the government should seriously consider restraining this overlap of duties.”

C4 went on to note that foregoing one’s duties as an elected official in favour of their involvement with GLCs is also another example of the “insidious nexus between business and politics” where elected officials seem “more focused on doing business instead of representing their voters”.

The anti-graft watchdog said this is further exacerbated by the lack of regulation on political financing, which enables GLCs to be potentially used as vehicles to siphon funds for politicians’ personal interests.

“The engagement of MPs in GLCs not only hampers their effectiveness in their roles as parliamentarians but also poses challenges for the GLCs they lead,” it reckoned.

“This is due to the divided attention between their constituency work and their responsibility to ensure the GLCs fulfil their objectives, a commitment that demands significant time and dedication.

“Furthermore, many MPs are simultaneously engaged in their personal business ventures and other professional work which makes it infeasible for them to fully dedicate themselves to their parliamentary duties.” – Sept 4, 2023




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