The 9 May 2018 elections brought the first change of government in Malaysia after 61 years. Promise 16 “Restore the Dignity of the Parliament outlined by the new government in its manifesto has created space for the parliament to parliament to initiate institutional reforms. The new government has had to deal with several key issues in a complex political environment that are crucial to Malaysia political stability and for laying the foundation for longer term institutional reforms. The challenge before the government is clear; to develop a reform agenda that is owned, driven and responds to national demands.
More than 32 million people will be affected by legislation and laws that are passed in the Parliament. Strengthening the national Parliament will allow the August house to play its role effectively, as a governmental institution with oversight functions, ready to lend legitimacy to the executive.
WFD has contributed to the reform-agenda by sharing parliamentary developments and innovations from its network, always ensuring that the reforms implemented are informed by the social and political environment and respond to changes occurring in the local context. Working with the MPs, committees and parliamentary staff, WFD programs seek to build the technical capacity of the parliament and encourage MPs to engage effectively with the people they represent.
Drawing on the Westminster experience, WFD has conducted capacity building training and workshops for the parliamentary staff and officers from the research department share information and knowledge on relevant processes and procedures.
WFD is also providing technical expertise to the relatively new select committee system in the Malaysian Parliament to support MPs to use the parliamentary process effectively. This includes the job scope and roles for chairs and members of committees, management of issues, planning and running of meetings and division of work.
WFD is working in the state of Sabah to build communication and leadership skills among women to enable them to get their voices and messages for change heard by decision makers and legislators. Women participation in the state is low; there are only six women representatives (out of 60) in the State Legislative Assembly. Only one is a full minister while there are three assistant ministers in the state cabinet. In addition, there are no Sabah women to be appointed as Federal Minister.