IT’S A HIGHLY-DIVISIVE
They only work when they are confined to narrow civic matters, not complex governance
SARAWAK legislative assembly Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar is perhaps better noted when he holds court within the hallowed single chamber of the riverside assembly building.
He probably is in his best lawyerly element on the rare occasions he held court outside the assembly chamber, as he did on May 16, explaining to the media why the legislative branch is “supreme” in our system of government vis-à- vis the courts and the executive branch.
Asfia was serving notice that he will act to strike out any move to have the assembly’s decision to disqualify an elected assemblyman challenged in court.
“The legislative assembly is the final arbiter in any question arising as to whether a member of the assembly has become disqualified for membership,” he said.
That was not the only drama in the current assembly sitting.
The Speaker made it almost his first order of business on the second day of the sitting to dismiss five of six opposition-initiated motions on various grounds, while reserving the last to be thrown out by majority vote of the entire assembly.
Thus, was nipped in the bud a potentially serious issue since the motion voted down had called for a debate on proposed legislation to allow for a citizens-initiated referendum (CIR).
In explaining why he introduced his private member’s bill on the subject earlier, Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How had said: “The CIR, which is initiated by the people, will empower them to play a constructive role for a more vibrant and transparent democratic system in Sarawak.
“On the other hand, being an indicative referendum, the result of the referendum is merely indicative of the views held by the people. The government is not
Like Brexit, holding a citizens-initiated referendum may seem to make little difference to what issues people really care about or understand.