Monday, April 23, 2007

The People's Parliament

Haris Ibrahim, if you don't know him by now, is current defending Jeff Ooi in the case where the latter was sued by the New Straits Times. Well, he has now started another commendable civil society effort to improve the performance of our parliamentarians.

He wrote on his maiden post in his blog 'The People's Parliament":
The average voter casts his vote at the general election without really knowing much about his candidate of choice. The short campaign period after nomination day simply does not allow time to investigate the stand of the candidate on issues that may be important to voters.

I am involved in a civil society project that is being initiated to enable voters to know better the stand of their present MPs on several pressing issues that confront our country. The idea is to get a group of voters from a particular constituency to approach their sitting MP for clarification as to his personal stand on those issues. The MP concerned will be pressed to make his stand publicly known and will be informed that his failure to do so will be taken to mean that his views do not conform to the views of his constituents.

If the MP in question does not respond or responds unfavourably, his constituents involved in this exercise will then make a decision if they wish to retain him or her in the next parliament. If they decide that he or she is not representative of their wishes, that decision will be reflected in this blog by an announcement under ’Situations Vacant’ that a candidate is required for that constituency for the next election and inviting applicants from civil society for consideration.
In his subsequent elaboration of his plans, he added that "we put into Parliament people we do not know and who in turn do not know what we want."
In the time that we have betwen now and the next elections, I want to try to put in place an initiative by which we get to know something of our MP and in the process get across to him or her what our concerns are and what our expectations are of him or her. If we emerge from this exercise with a sense that the present MP does not stand with us on these numerous issues, we must make it known to Barisan and the usual opposition parties that they must not assume that we are condemned in our choice of representatives to the usual fare. And if Barisan and the opposition will not pay heed to our cries, then we must have the courage and the will to find that candidate of choice from amongst our own ranks.
Want to know more about what he is doing? Please visit his blog for more details. His actions are definitely commendable. Unfortunately, now being an 'interested party' in the electoral process, I won't be able join the movement ;).

He is specifically targetting voters in the following constituencies for the civil action:
  1. Bandar Tun Razak
  2. Batu
  3. Setiawangsa
  4. Lembah Pantai
  5. Segambut
  6. Petaling Jaya Selatan
  7. Petaling Jaya Utara
  8. Subang
  9. Kelana Jaya
As Haris put it, "can we quit griping and start acting, please?"
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