Responsible Lawmakers

I was one of few lucky people invited to attend the first day of the new Brunei Legislative Council session. It was interesting as I have never attended one anywhere else in the world before. Though I have visited a few parliaments or the equivalent of our legislative council in other countries but not while they are in session. Today's ceremony was full of pomp and ceremony. I was quite surprised to see one of the ICC halls being converted into a parliamentary chamber. In fact nobody would have recognised that room as I remember that room very well, we held one of the ASEAN ministers meeting there. The transformation was like entering one of Star Trek's 3-D room where they have this virtual reality thing.

I remember in my political study days in UK, that the pomp and ceremony actually are part of the culture and work of the parliamentary process. It keeps the civility and the checks and balances. I remembered back then, around early 1980s, we had this fierce debate whether or not to televised the parliamentary debates. Nowadays it is televised but the glamour seems to have been lost and the BBC never shows the pomp and ceremony side of it but only the rowdier part. Of course it's worse in Korea and Taiwan, fist fights occur frequently that everytime they showed it on television, nobody is shocked anymore. I guess that happens when the pomp and ceremony is gone. Legislative council arguments became common arguments and not privileged speeches anymore.

Unfortunately I won't be able to watch the Brunei Legislative Council sessions during my absence the next few days but I will be back by next week and I will want to watch the debates. And hah! I have already got my security pass to get in. This will be the first time in more than 20 years that the government budget will be debated and it will be interesting to see how our fledgling lawmakers deal with the budget. Without the budget, the government will not be able to operate by the coming fiscal year starting April. It will even be more interesting to see how the lawmakers deal with other legislations later on. Supply Bills (that is how budgets are passed) are easy, other legislations as they become more complex are harder.

That is an issue which we as the people have not grappled with. Legislative chambers discuss policies and in doing so passes legislations. There are a number of infrastructure that we need to put in place. The Legislative Council supporting staff need to have a whole legal team in place, the members of the council themselves need to have an office with its supporting staff hopefully legally trained as well. Otherwise our legislative council will not not be able to carry out the task it is supposed to do which is to legislate. So if you know of any aspiring lawmakers, please help by keeping the professionalism of our legislative chambers by reminding them of the need for them to know of the legal system and the legal infrastructure. It's not enough just to sit down and represent the people. We need to make sure that they passed the right laws and that they represent us well.

Comments

kamakazi said…
When I watched the tele last night, I was trying to figure out where exactly within ICC the meeting took place. Well that answered my question. When I was a kid, I used to dream about our country having a parliament, where people are given the power to speak on issues which relate to our nation’s future. Boy, I was a very ambitious kid. Almost twenty years pass by, I am seeing it all in front of our own eyes. We are living in the most interesting years where our country is in the early transformation process in it political and financial policies.

It is well said that the members of the council need to represent the people well. I should further add that they need to have the ability to have the connections and mechanism to hear and listen the voices of the people. I am not sure how the legislative council works, but if it is not in their plan, then I wish there are some sort of lower level council meeting where ‘Ketua Kampong’ and ‘Penghulu’ can voice the grievance, opinions and suggestions on certain policies from their villagers with the council members. Only then the council speaks on behalf of the people, not on behalf of their respective ministry.

I hope in the future, there will be opportunities where they leave few sits open for people to vote. In that way, people can participate in the process of the nation’s building. But all in all, at this point of time, we should be very grateful with what we have now.
FlyBoy said…
Sometimes i look at countries like Indonesia and the Phillipines with the democracy and voting system and wonder whether we should follow it. Sometimes democracy(the American model anyway)only suits certain countries and economies.
I believe the best model to follow is the one used during the time of the Prophet Muhammad when Syura(discussion)was used and the pious leaders ruled the Islamic Empire.

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