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Projek Pengawas & #POTA26

Monitoring MP attendance and performance with #ProjekPengawas

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Do you know what the role and job of your MP is?

Role of MP

The role of an MP in Malaysia is to make and amend federal laws, approve and debate federal (nationwide) budgets and expenditures; and propose and examine policies of the federal government (the Ministers). Where this happens officially is in the Parliament of Malaysia where there are 3 sessions a year running for a few weeks, one of which is happening right now.

In general, written questions and replies are submitted in advance, for example "please share details on how much was spent on floods", or "how much has been allocated to development of public facilities in fishing villages" at either national or constituency level by different MPs. The MPs are then allocated time to ask this when Parliament is in session. During later part of the session, bills and amendments are tabled such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and are debated and voted on.

As such it is an MP's job and responsibility to be at Parliament during these sessions especially on topics that are of interest to their constituencies. MPs have to be present in order for the public to monitor their MP's performance in terms of representing their voters of their constituencies. They are your voice in Parliament.

There are several ways the public can monitor the work of their MPs and Federal government (Ministers) during Parliamentary sessions:

  • Review written replies and questions submitted (Not available on parliament site, we are working to get this available)
  • Review the Hansard which is the transcript of what was spoken in Parliament, including their questions and support or objections on key points
  • See them live in person via the public gallery
  • Watch them online through one of many channels, RTM is official one.
  • Check their attendance via Hansard and or attendance records (not available)
  • Check their voting record on bills and amendments (not available)
You can check the agenda for upcoming sessions and the day's session provided nicely on the front page of the parlimen.gov.my website.
It is valid complaint however that the bills are not provided in advance, and as such that makes it difficult for opposition MPs to provide good feedback such as the Sedition Act Amendment.

Attendance & Voting

Unfortunately not all of these methods of monitoring the work of MPs are readily available or easy to get, such as detailed online copies of the written questions & answers, attendance and voting records. Attendance records are not available online or in hard copy, #ProjekPengawas was our initiative to try get this via other means. In order to get attendance one must visually check through online broadcast, video archives, have monitors at public gallery and parliament,  and a few days later entries in the Hansard which eventually are made available online at parlimen.gov.my.

A similar process has also to be done if the public wanted to know which MPs voted for or against amendments, or whether they were absent. You have to do it visually for verbal (Ye or Ne) votes. For more serious bills or amendments, an open ballot is done, and voting done by blocks where a representative collects votes from one side and submits to speaker to count. The record of this is available in the Hansard made public online after a few working days including the names of the MPs.

In general because of the Party whip system, Malaysian MPs vote along party lines. Unless absent, all of BN would vote one way, and all of PR would vote the other way. However all MPs have time to have their say and debate bills. It's their responsibility to review and improve or fix problematic issues regardless of which side they are on.

#POTA26: 26 PR MPs that were not counted in block voting of 3rd Reading of POTA 2015 Bill

The debate and voting on this bill highlighted issues with the above processes, and especially of concern for voters against the Prevention of Terrorism Act whether their MP was in parliament as their representative to voice out objections and to vote against it. An absent MP means that their representative was not there, and many wanted to know if their MP especially opposition MPs were there. Through painstaking process of reviewing 5 hours video archive as well as additional contact confirmations this is the list of absent MPs.

Since this was an open ballot done via block votes, we will be able to have accurate official records of all those that vote for and against once the Hansard is made available online on the Parliamentary website.

There may be errors, if you as an MP were there and on this list, or have valid reasons to be absent from Parliament please contact Tan Sze Ming at 

Update: Raja Bahrin Kuala Trengganu (PAS) MP attended, and removed from the list: Source: Wong Cheng MP Kelana Jaya 
Update: DAP Press Statement on absent DAP MPs and contribution of present MPs.
Update: Many have asked for the BN list or even 60 PR list. Note the post is not about #POTA26 but the lack of transparency. There are no public online records of attendance for sessions. As such it is very hard to get lists of any names present or not, BN or PR on daily basis. 

 

Don't stop at POTA bill, continue engaging and monitoring your MP

"Rakyat is the boss, your MPs work for you."

  • Demand Parliament [email protected] to publish MP and Sentator attendance records online.
  • Contact them to submit written questions on what you like to know for the next session whether it's budget allocated to schools for your area, how much MH370 search has cost so far and so on. They are your representatives.
  • Check the Parliamentary agenda when in session, on issues you care about, and watch your MP's performance in responding to it. Were they even there?
  • Were you against POTA but your rep voted for it? Give them a piece of your mind too! Whether or not you voted for them, they are still your representative. 

Hopefully we have provided you with an educational post on your MPs. We are currently working on better services on complete online information on all 222 MPs, as well as making the very detailed written replies available publicly online as well. You can track officially available bills and amendments on our Billwatcher site.

Do contact us at [email protected],  if there is anything parliamentary related, that you would like to monitor or make more accessible that is not provided by the official Parliamentary site. You can also contact us at the same address if you would like to help, you can also tag and follow us on Twitter @sinarproject, join our FB group or circle our Google Plus page.

Additional Resources

 

Source:

Story Type: Update

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