Bar Council suggests bigger allowance for MPs to hire research officers

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 — Malaysian Bar chief Lim Chee Wee suggested today that bigger allowances be given to members of Parliament to enable them to hire research officers to help them in legislative work.

“The problem lies in support. I assume that their level of intellect is not so bad that even the best support cannot assist them.

“So we need to bring back the Parliamentary Services Act where sufficient funds are made available not for purposes of drains and roads and wedding gifts. Purposes of hiring clever research officers to brief our MPs,” Lim (picture) said.

Anis Yusal Yusoff, a principal research fellow with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), agreed that many of our MPs are not up to the mark.

“We need to have better people sent to the Dewan Rakyat. I think that is certainly important because the rakyat is getting more intelligent and you cannot send somebody less intelligent than the ordinary rakyat out there because they will question them,” he said.

Both were on a panel at an open discussion titled “Empowering liberal democratic institutions” organised by the Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) today.

“From my dealings with Parliamentarians, I am always almost disappointed at the level of knowledge.

“I know there are programmes for politicians. Skills assume knowledge. We have a problem with even knowledge on the part of some of our MPs,” Lim said.

He said Barisan Nasional (BN) and PKR MPs are the “weaker links” in Parliament while the DAP and PAS “seem to have better, more articulate, intelligent” MPs.

For example, he said, when the Peaceful Assembly Bill came about, some MPs “had no idea” even about the existing law.

He pointed out that members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council are given RM500,000 to fund research officers to assist them.

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