Malaysia’s PM more powerful than US president, MP claims

Malaysia’s prime minister is more powerful than the US president in terms of institutional strength because the head of state here can “ignore” Parliament unlike the Congress in America, a DAP lawmaker said today.

At a forum here, Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong pointed out that the US Congress has the power to shut down the government and to reject any Bill pushed by the president.

In Malaysia, however, Liew alleged that Parliament comes under the prime minister’s “thumb”.

One example, he said, is how the prime minister is allowed to decide alone how to use the discretionary funds under the Prime Minister’s department.

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“The Malaysian prime minister is more powerful than the US president in terms of institutional strength,” Liew told the forum titled “The Malaysian Parliament: Reforms and Barriers” at the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia at Sunway University here.

“Here in Malaysia, the prime minister can ignore Parliament. He has Parliament under his thumb,” he added.

Liew called for more parliamentary committees to oversee the administration.

The opposition lawmaker also said committees in Parliament should have their own staff so that they do not have to be headed by government ministers who have secretarial employees.

Ivanpal S. Grewal, political secretary to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mah Siew Keong, told the forum that federal opposition pact Pakatan Rakyat (PR) should form a shadow Cabinet.

“That’s the first step to institutional reform,” he said.

“I agree on the need for committees. Maybe this can start in Kelantan, Penang and Selangor,” Ivanpal added, referring to the states under PR rule.

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