Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Poser over independent caucus

The idea of an independent caucus to pursue the struggle of independent MPs is seen as a test to form a third force in the Dewan Rakyat.

While the caucus will enable independent MPs to speak in one voice, political observers are sceptical whether all seven Independent MPs would take a common stand on controversial issues such as the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Will the members be tied down to the caucus?

The idea, which was tossed by MP for Bayan Baru Zahrain Hashim two days ago, did not get a unanimous support.

Pasir Mas MP Datuk Ibrahim Ali and Kulim-Bandar Baharu MP Zulkifli Noordin are said to be more comfortable without having the caucus as it would not reflect the true independence of independent MPs.

"It is no big deal. It (caucus) is not significant in getting two-thirds majority to pass Bills. We are short of four seats," said Ibrahim.

BN has 137 MPs while the DAP-Parti Keadilan Rakyat-PAS alliance has 78 MPs.

Ibrahim, who is also the president of Perkasa, a right-wing organisation, said the caucus would only be relevant on matters that required a simple majority like the 2010 Budget, which was passed by only a three-vote majority.

"It is not easy to take a common stand on certain issues. On the ISA, I want the Act to remain as it is. What are the views of other Independent MPs?"

On the other hand, Zulkifli is adamant in rejecting the ISA which he described as a "draconian law".

He is also said to be against the caucus idea.

For Bagan Serai MP Mohsin Fadzli Samsuri, he liked the idea as he felt that the caucus could harmonise the direction of Independent MPs.

"It means our voice will be stronger when dabbling in certain issues," he added.

Tan Tee Beng (Independent-Nibong Tebal) was also reported to have supported the idea.

Ibrahim stood on a PAS ticket in the 2008 general election while Zahrain, Mohsin and Tee Beng left the PKR. Zulkifli was sacked by the PKR.

Two more Independent MPs are Eric Majimbun (Sepanggar) and Dr Chua Soon Bui (Tawau) from Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), which left the BN government in 2008.

SAPP president Yong Teck Lee has made it clear his two MPs had no dealings with the BN.

Zahrain said the caucus could become a third force and a balancing factor between the Barisan Nasional and the Opposition.

He said, for instance, Independent MPs could take a common stand on justice and corruption.

Political observer Dr Sivamrugan Pandian said the caucus would be relevant when deliberating on issues as Independent MPs were not restricted by any political party.

"They are free to take any side on issues deliberated," he added.

While the caucus idea has generated interest in the media and political area, it is left to be seen whether it will get off the ground.

Another question is, who will lead the independent block?

- Bernama

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