Reforming the Dewan Negara: Its Evolution and Options for Reform
Keywords:Reform, Dewan Negara, Constitutional Law, Parliamentary Democracy, Upper Houses
Despite its prominent position as the upper House of the Malaysian Parliament, the inherent structural and operational weaknesses of the Dewan Negara culminates in a chamber that fails to inspire public attention and confidence. This is a significant contrast with the attention that the lower House, the Dewan Rakyat usually draws and is a departure from the original vision that it should be an influential forum of debate and discussion. Nonetheless, the general apathy with which the public may perceive the chamber should not distract from the benefits that serious reform of the chamber may provide. As attention paid to parliamentary reform in Malaysia increasingly focuses overwhelmingly on the Dewan Rakyat, it is equally important that the Dewan Negara be considered as an integral element to any parliamentary reform efforts. In dealing with this issue, this paper explores the historical evolution of the Dewan Negara and the current issues it faces. It then performs a comparative study of the Australian and Canadian Senates to glean usable lessons, culminating in a discussion of possible reform options for the Dewan Negara.
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