Why I am supporting the tabling of the Social Inclusion Act 2014 as a private member’s bill by Dr. Jeyakumar, MP for Sungai Siput

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 24th of February 2014, in Kuala Lumpur

This morning, Dr Jeyakumar, MP for Sungai Siput, submitted a motion to table the Social inclusion Act 2014 as a private member’s bill under Article 49 of the Parliamentary Standing Orders. Included in this motion is my letter of support as a seconder for this private member’s bill.[1]

I would like to congratulate Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM) for their support of this bill. At the same time, I would also like to congratulate Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) and HAKAM for their efforts in drafting this bill.

There are 5 reasons why I am supporting this bill in my capacity as a Member of Parliament.

Firstly, the Social Inclusion Act 2014 is consistent with the needs based affirmative action policy which was and is being advocated by Pakatan Rakyat. This act creates a Social Inclusion Commission which is tasked with identifying marginalized communities and to come up with social inclusive policies to address the needs of these communities including institutional and structural reform.

Secondly, this act advocates for a strong Social Inclusion Commission with significant powers of oversight over government policies. For example, under Section 17(1)(c) of this act , this commission is empowered to monitor, evaluate and approve the implementation of social inclusion plans of actions by the Governments of the Federation and the States. Right now, the issues of poverty and social inclusion are not holistically addressed within the government and the cabinet but is dispersed and distributed across various ministries. Having a strong Social Inclusion Commission will give more focus to the existing programs and policies that are supposed to address issues of poverty and social exclusion.

Thirdly, this act advocates for a transparent process of appointment to the Commission whereby a Parliamentary Select Committee headed by the leader of the opposition with 4 MPs (two from the Government and two from the Opposition) will recommend the 7 members of the Social Inclusion Commission to the Prime Minister for appointment by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong. The Committee is also empower by this act to appoint three experts to assist with unique situations of social exclusion of West Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.

Fourthly, this Act provides a model for parliamentary and public accountability. The Social Inclusion Commission is required by this Act to submit detailed half yearly reports and audited accounts by the Auditor General to parliament and to make its reports publicly available. This Act also makes it mandatory for the public to be given opportunity to give their inputs during the drafting of any and all social inclusion policies by the Commission.

Fifthly, this Act respects and upholds the constitution including Article 153.

Given that the proper paperwork has been filed and that this bill does not contravene any standing orders or the constitution, I sincerely hope that the Secretary of the Parliament will agree to the tabling of this bill as a Private Members Bill in the upcoming parliamentary sitting which starts on the 10th of March.