Change LegCo’s lack of debates

National 2 minutes, 28 seconds


ALTHOUGH no one can deny that the recent session of the State Legislative Council Meeting came to a fruitful close, with a host of issues unearthed from the very reaches of the grassroot level to concerns branching out to the national agenda, several areas of concern need to be addressed regarding the meeting's procedures.

The council meeting serves as a platform to draft and pass laws, implement financial restrictions and examine government policies and other matters related to council. On paper, these objectives may be sufficient, but in practice, it seems that much more can be achieved if some procedures in the meeting were changed.

From an observer's point of view, the meeting lacked the true sense of debate, which should be experienced during such platforms for discussion, especially when national policies come under scrutiny.

Most of the deliberations of the meeting followed a repetitive cycle of one question to one answer: An appointed council member would raise an issue, voicing out on behalf of the public. In response, the relevant minister would represent the government and give an answer.

However, no questions were raised to follow-up on the government's response; no remark made on any part of the response, which may have needed further elaboration or suggestions that could have been added to the answer.

Are these answers completely clear and concise in responding to the queries raised? Surely not, as some issues re-surface time and time again, after having been raised before in previous council meetings.

If the issue at hand were to be addressed properly and thoroughly, it needs to be volleyed back and forth by both representatives from the government and the public. Other members also need to intervene and voice their opinions, when relevant, thus making the meeting a formal discussion.

Another thought which should be considered is the relevance of topics brought up during the council. Issues which involve small-scale problems that are isolated to only one particular area and call for the attention of only a single agency need not be raised in a forum where issues are discussed on a national level.

The recent session saw such topics, like the need for a repair of a bus stand in certain villages, raised during the meeting. As the council's Speaker YAM Pengiran Indera Mahkota Pengiran Anak (Dr) Kemaludin Al-Haj pointed out, such issues should be forwarded directly to the responsible agency in question and council members did not have to wait to present it before the council, since it was too small to be discussed at the State Legislative Council Meeting.

He also said that the time spent on discussing these matters could have been spent more wisely by addressing more pressing issues of public concern.

The council only convenes for a couple of times each year, thus making each session valuable in ensuring that the relevant legislation is passed, and with all necessary concerns addressed appropriately.

The Brunei Times