54th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
1 – 10 August 2008
Malaysian Minister and four Commonwealth Presiding Officers elected to top CPA posts
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
A senior Malaysian cabinet Minister has been elected as the Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the association which links more than 175 Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures.
Hon. Dato’ Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, MP, Malaysia’s Minister of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage, was elected to the three-year post in voting by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) on 9 August. The Assembly, the supreme governing body of the CPA, was composed of more than 250 Members representing the Commonwealth’s national, state, provincial and territorial Parliaments and Legislatures. It was held during the 54th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Kuala Lumpur, hosted by the Parliament of Malaysia.
In other elections at the General Assembly, the Speaker of the Tanzanian National Assembly, Hon. Samuel John Sitta, MP, was elected as President for the coming year as his Parliament will host the 2009 Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference. The Speaker of the Kenyan National Assembly, Hon. Kenneth Marende, MP, was elected as Vice-President as Kenya will host the Association’s main annual meeting in 2010.
The outgoing Chairperson of the Executive Committee, Hon. Hashim Abdul Halim, MLA, Speaker of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, was elected as Treasurer of the Association, for a three-year term. He becomes the first Parliamentarian from outside the Parliaments and Legislatures of the British Isles to occupy this post.
The Deputy Speaker of the British Virgin Islands House of Assembly, Hon. Keith Flax, MHA, was elected by the CPA Executive Committee as its Vice-Chairperson.
Dato’ Shafie, the first Malaysian to hold the post since former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Musa Hitam from 1977 to 1979, was elected in a contest against Lord Paul of Marylebone, a Member of the United Kingdom House of Lords.
"As a unique collective of elected representatives, the CPA has a responsibility to make Parliamentarians’ voices heard not just in our own Houses, but also in addressing the matters raised at this conference – gender issues, environmental degradation and food security," said the Minister in addressing delegates.
"Endemic poverty breeds loss of hope and worse disillusionment with democracy. This becomes fertile ground for the extremist who has no regard for the democratic process. Therefore it is in all our interests to find the ways to overcome gross economic imbalances. We need action not just words," he said, calling on Parliamentarians to convince Commonwealth governments to use their other international links to help achieve sustainable development and resolve such global problems as debt, gender equality, the energy and food crises and environmental degradation.
The Malaysian Minister has been a Member of the Dewan Rakyat, or House of Representatives, since 1995. He represents a constituency in Sabah, one of the two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. Dato’ Shafie, an economics graduate who was employed in the Malaysian Ministry of Finance prior to becoming an MP, was Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Information, Deputy Minister of Housing and Local Government and then of Defence before serving as Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs from 2004 until the Malaysian general election earlier this year. Following the election, he was appointed as Minister of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage.
Dato’ Shafie is also a member of the Supreme Council of the United Malay National Organization, the largest party in Malaysia’s governing coalition. He chairs the CPA Malaysia Branch and the South-East Asia Region of the CPA.
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is composed of the Parliaments and Legislatures in 52 of the 53 Commonwealth nations and their overseas territories. It has a membership of more than 16,000 Members of national, state, provincial and territorial Assemblies. The Bangladesh and Fiji Islands Branches of the CPA remain in abeyance as neither country now has a functioning Parliament. The only Commonwealth country not currently in the CPA is Brunei, which does not have an elected Parliament.
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