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NRC agrees to amend reforms on party structure, state agencies

Jul 13. 2015
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THE National Reform Council (NRC) has approved a revised proposal on political party structure and access put forward by its Political Reform Committee.
This proposal, which is part of the NRC’s 37 reform agenda, will be passed to the government and other concerned agencies for further approval. The NRC voted 200:5 for the proposal with two abstentions. 
The proposal involves reform in four key sectors: “decapitalising” political parties; bringing “decent people” into Parliament; to empower independent agencies; and the process of public participation. 
In terms of “decapitalisation”, the proposal suggests cutting financial support offered to political parties in a bid to cut capitalists’ power and to strengthen small parties. 
In terms of “decent people”, the panel suggested that a “Proportional Parallel Voting” system be set up, to elect 400 constituency MPs and 100 closed-list MPs. Constituency MPs would need to win “primary votes” from party members, as well as submit tax records before taking up a post in Parliament. 
In regard to the structure of independent bodies, the committee suggested new criteria for selection committees of these organisations so that political influence can be cut and public participation lifted in the selection process. Agencies listed in the proposal include the Election Commission (EC), the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Office of the Ombudsman and the Office of the Auditor-General.
The committee said that the EC required major reform in terms of its authority and duties. In the proposal it said the EC could supervise the channels for party campaigns, so the problem of disadvantage among candidates can be reduced and order maintained during campaigning. 
As for its electoral duties, the panel suggested the EC be allowed to set, and delay the election date, if necessary. 
For anti-corruption agencies, the committee suggested that the NACC and Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission be merged to improve efficiency. It also suggested that the NHRC and Ombudsman’s Office be allowed to separately keep an eye on the government for better results. 
As for public participation, the panel suggested a national committee be set up to educate people, listen to their views and promote a greater public role. 
This would help steer long-term public participation and formulation of relevant laws.

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