The Art of Neutering the Malaysian Parliament


Malaysia inherited the Westminster parliamentary system in 1957. But since then the country’s law-making body has been steadily undermined. The innovation exercised in this process is worth studying by any wannabe dictator.

“MPs in Malaysia are often busy performing KBSM duties.”

I am fond of repeating this phrase whenever asked to speak on the roles and responsibilities of Malaysian parliamentarians. Typically, my statement would elicit blank stares, although occasionally someone would ask me if by KBSM I meant “Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah,” in reference to the national integrated school curriculum popularised in the 1980s by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Not quite,” I would reply. “KBSM stands for kahwin, bersalin, sakit, mati. Basically, as MPs, we are expected to show up at weddings, full moon ceremonies, visit sick patients at the hospital and attend funerals.”

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