SANDAKAN – Five members of St Mary Cathedral Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) had the privilege to visit the Parliament in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 17.
The PPC was joined by another five members from the Sandakan Inter-church to make up a 10-Christian delegation to the Malaysian Parliament. All of us were a first-time visitor to the Parliament where the Rakyat’s voice is heard and Laws are made.
The study tour was made possible by an invitation from the Law Minister, Datuk VK Liew and the kind sponsorship of Dato Seri Joshua Chong, a corporate figure from Kuala Lumpur.
The objective of the tour was mainly educational and to gain first-hand experience of the Federal law-making process.
We were hosted by the officials from the Batu Sapi Parliamentary with briefings and guided tour of the many galleries in the parliament building.
The most profound experience was the opportunity to sit in the two different sections of the public gallery inside the Dewan Rakyat. We could see the chamber where the Members of Parliament (MP) had their debates and discussions. On that particular visit, we witnessed the debate on the Sales and Service Tax (SST) issue. The debate was hot, but suffused with good-natured banter.
During the Study Tour, we managed to meet a few of the lawmakers from Sandakan and even shook hands with Datuk Anwar Ibrahim.
Even though we could not visit Datuk Liew in his office due to his busy schedule, he invited us to join him and his staff for a dinner function that evening. At dinner, we discussed and exchanged our views on the issue of abolishing the death penalty in Malaysia.
At the same time, the Christian leaders brought up Church needs to his attention.
When asked about what we have learnt on the study trip, PPC Vice Chairman Michael Lai shared, “We have been given a memorable experience to witness the parliament proceeding. At the same time, the fellowship that we, from the different denominations have shared, has bound us closer to one another and to our Lord.”
From the Baptist Church, Rev Khoo Keng Shiang was impressed by the openness of the Malaysian parliament, which is accessible for the public to visit. The study trip has gained him much knowledge and invaluable exposure on how the process of Law is made in Malaysia. He hoped that in the near future, similar tours could be organized for other Church leaders to gain this invaluable insight. – Dalius LL