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  • Writer's pictureYin Heng

Unveiling the Mystery of the Malaysian Parliament House Open Day

Writer: Yin Heng

Editor: Li Yanze

On May 6 and 7, the Malaysian Parliament held an open day for the first time in its history. This unique occasion presents an unparalleled opportunity for citizens and visitors to gain insights into the inner workings of the country's legislative institution, fostering transparency, and promoting active civic engagement.

Dewan Negara president, Rais Yatim, said the early turnout underscored the popular support for the country’s legislature, he mentioned at the opening of the Parliamentary Open Day that “The doors of this building mean that the rights that exist in Parliament are the rights of the people.” in an interview with the Oriental Daily News. Speaker of the House of Commons, Datuk Johari Abdul, the Parliamentary Administrator, Member of Parliament, and foreign envoys were also present at the open day.

Malaysia is a country of diverse cultural heritage, and the Parliament House, which saw the building of Malaysia by all races, was listed as one of the national heritage buildings under the National Heritage Act 2005 in 2007.

During the open day, visitors had the opportunity to explore its magnificent halls, witness the democratic process in action and gain a deeper understanding of the principles of national governance.

The Malaysia Parliament House stands as an iconic symbol of democracy and political progress. Nestled in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, this magnificent architectural marvel serves as the seat of power where lawmakers convene to debate and shape the nation's future. During the open day, visitors have the chance to explore its grand halls, witness the democratic process in action, and gain a deeper understanding of the principles that underpin the country’s governance.

(Interior of the Malaysian Parliament building. Photo by He Miao)

The Malaysia Parliament House open day hosts a series of engaging and informative exhibitions that highlight the rich history, functions, and significance of the parliamentary system. For example, there are historical presentations and collections related to elections, the Prime Minister and the separation of powers in the museum. Visitors can explore interactive displays, educational panels, and multimedia presentations that shed light on the evolution of Malaysia's democracy, the role of Members of Parliament, and the legislative process.

(Open Day Exhibition at Parliament House, Malaysia. Photo by He Miao)

A visitor living in Penang, Zhuan Shaw, flew to Kuala Lumpur for this event, “I flew in from Penang to visit Parliament. I've only seen these scenes on TV before and the Parliament building only accepts group visits, so this is a really rare opportunity!”

To enhance the open day experience, the open day also included several traditional activities, costumes, and food stalls to actively engage visitors of all ages. These hands-on activities include mock parliamentary debates, legislative drafting exercises, and educational games designed to demystify the legislative process and encourage civic participation. These types of games are ideal for children, who can learn about the role of Parliament by participating in the games.

A housewife, Sabaaha Waleed, said, “My daughter took part in the mock poll and she thought it was amazing. Also, there are many outdoor food stalls. I have always lived in Western Malaysia, but I find that many Eastern Malaysian cuisines are also common in my life. This shows the high level of cultural integration of our ethnic groups.”

(Food stall. Photo from He Miao)

A guided tour of the Malaysian Parliament House gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at democracy in Malaysia. Passing through restricted areas not normally open to the public, visitors can get a glimpse of the inner workings of the legislature. From the impressive debating chambers to the meticulously preserved heritage rooms, these tours offer an intimate understanding of the daily routines, protocols, and traditions observed within the parliament's hallowed halls. A Chinese tourist, He Miao, commented that “It’s not just about tourism in Malaysia, this event has given me a deeper understanding of Malaysian culture and politics, which is very meaningful!”

The Malaysian Parliament House Open Day is an important milestone in connecting citizens with their democratic rights, learning about the inner workings of their government and actively participating in shaping the future of their country. By opening its doors and engaging the public, Parliament House embraces transparency, accountability and inclusiveness, reinforcing the principles on which a vibrant democracy is built. This campaign is a testament to the country’s commitment to empowering its citizens and promoting an informed and engaged electorate.

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