Summary of Second Workshop on Networking and Outreach with Civil Society Organizations

05 October 2017

Participants of the 2nd Workshop on “Networking and Outreach with Civil Society Organizations” hosted by Parliament of Malaysia posed with AIPA Secretary General Hon. P.O. Ram, Chief Administrator of Parliament of Malaysia Hon. Datuk Awang Alik Jeman, Secretary of the House of Representatives of Malaysia Hon. Datuk Roosme Hamzah, First Clerk of the Senate of Malaysia Hon. Mr. Riduan bin Rahmat, Ms. Nicole Heppner, GIZ Principal Advisor and Dr. Birgit Laubach, the Workshop Facilitator on Monday, 1st August 2016 at Parliament of Malaysia

Parliament of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur

31st July – 3rd August 2016

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Second Workshop on Networking and Outreach with Civil Society Organizations was hosted by Parliament of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur from 31st July to 3rd August 2016. The venue of the workshop was at the Parliament and it was attended by 23 Parliament Staff representing 7 Parliaments, Facilitator, GIZ Representative and Officials of the AIPA Secretariat.

At the first workshop, examples of the best practices and successful efforts on how parliaments and governments are networking with CSO in order to achieve common goals was discussed. Furthermore ideas of engaging CSO for networking and outreach, in the establishment of the ASEAN Community were debated.

The second workshop emphasized on the objective to develop a draft policy framework on AIPA-CSO engagement and outreach. Thus second workshop’s theme was “Developing a Draft Policy Framework on AIPA-CSO Engagement and Outreach.” It aimed to enable participants to formulate a draft Policy Framework on AIPA-CSO Engagement and Outreach for the establishment of the ASEAN Community.

Facilitator of the Workshop was Dr. Birgit Laubach of elbarlament based in Berlin, Germany. The conduct of the workshop was well structured and organized through plenary meetings and peer group discussions.

The final workshop or “Workshop No. 3”, would be titled “Validating the Draft Policy Framework on AIPA-CSO Engagement and Outreach.” This Workshop No. 3 aims to validate the draft policy framework on AIPA–CSO Engagement and Outreach; discuss and mutually agree on the next steps (including road map) in finalizing the policy framework to be tabled as a draft resolution for the next AIPA General Assembly.

At the end of the series of workshops, it is envisioned that the “Draft Policy Framework on AIPA-CSO Engagement and Outreach” will contain the following elements and key questions that must be addressed:

(1) Vision and Objectives – What do we want to achieve?

(2) Principles – What are the values that we should follow?

(3) Terms of Engagement – How do we engage the CSOs in a partnership?

(4) Areas of Partnership – What are the possible subject areas or disciplines within which we can engage CSOs for joint undertakings or partnerships?

This workshop series is expected to contribute to achieve one of the Component 3 indicators, which reads, “As of 2015, networking with at least one CSO has been established.”


Opening Remarks


Hon. Datuk Awang Alik Jeman, Chief Administrator of Parliament of Malaysia

 Hon. Datuk Awang Alik Jeman, Chief Administrator of Parliament of Malaysia addressed the workshop participants and guests attending the Opening of the Workshop on Monday, 1st August 2016. He addressed Secretary General of AIPA Hon. Mr. PO Ram, GIZ Representatives Ms. Nicole Heppner and Mr. Bernardo R. Agawin, Jr., Technical Assistance Coordinator, for AIPA-GIZ Capacity Development Project, Dr. Birgit Laubach, the workshop facilitator, and all workshop participants. He said it was a great pleasure for him to warmly welcome participants to the Second Workshop on “Networking and Outreach with Civil Society Organizations”.

He believed the two days workshop will enable participants to learn the best international practices on how public sector engages and networks with CSOs to achieve common goals, and thereafter to outline ideas on how to engage CSOs and AIPA member parliaments. At the end he said it is a means to enhance relationship between parliament and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).

He continued by saying that it is a great honor to welcome all to Parliament House of Malaysia, and informed some, who visits the Parliament for the first time, of massive renovation which is currently underway since 2013 and scheduled to be completed in 2017.

He said as a ‘little ambassador’ for his country, since some of the participants could be a first time visitor to Malaysia, ‘to know Malaysia is to love Malaysia’ – a country where a bubbling, bustling melting-pot of races and religions, where Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other ethnic groups live together in peace and harmony. He continued that multiculturalism has made Malaysia a gastronomical paradise and home to hundreds of colourful festivals, such as celebration of the Independence Day that falls on 31st August.

He explained that Kuala Lumpur (KL) is a city which is expanding on both rapid socio-economic and cultural development fronts. It serves as an iconic symbol of Malaysia’s future as well as the future of the region. It boasts of 8.9 million tourists a year, making it among the most visited cities in the world. It is a city where people can ‘shop and dine’ and designer goods are available at mega shopping mall like the iconic Petronas Twin Tower that used to be the tallest building in the world.

He concluded his opening remarks by thanking everyone who gave immense contribution in the organizing of the workshop and for making the time to attend the workshop’s opening. He wished all participants to enjoy their stay and hope that despite their busy schedules in Kuala Lumpur, they may find good quality time to explore the unique city and country.

Hon. P.O. Ram, Secretary General of AIPA

Hon. Mr. P.O. Ram, Secretary General of AIPA, on behalf of the AIPA Secretariat wished everyone a very wonderful morning and extended his warmest welcome to all. He extended his gratitude to Hon. Datuk Awang Alik Jeman Chief Administrator of Parliament of Malaysia, Hon. Datuk Roosme Hamzah, Secretary of The House of Representatives of Malaysia and Hon. Mr. Riduan bin Rahmat, First Clerk of the Senate of Malaysia and, all Malaysian parliament staff for generously hosting the workshop.

He said that after more than eight (8) months since the first workshop was held in Bangkok in November last year, he was very glad to see some of the participants again. He continued by saying that the agenda of this workshop was to review what had been agreed during the previous workshop, particularly on the “AIPA Policy Framework on Networking and Outreach with Civil Society Organizations,” that outlined (1) Vision and Objectives, (2) Principles, (3) Terms of Engagement and (4) Areas of Partnership in engaging CSOs for joint undertakings or partnerships with parliament.

The framework agreed in the first workshop will be the main input in drafting an AIPA Resolution on the same subject, and it was for the participants to discuss, scrutinize and consider to fulfil the needs and requirements of all AIPA member parliaments. He hoped that in this workshop, participants will come to an agreement on the draft resolution to be reviewed, provided with additional inputs and, hopefully be concurred by their principals.

For the third and final leg of this series of workshop which will be held sometime in November this year, feedback from the principals of each respective parliament will assist in fine tuning the draft resolution that will be presented for consideration at the 38th AIPA General Assembly which will be held in the Philippines next year.

He said that aside from the discussion on this draft resolution, Dr. Birgit Laubach will also present some information and knowledge on (1) Pitfalls and Disadvantages of CSO participation in the parliamentary processes, (2) International Agreements on Freedom of Association, Civil, Political, Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, (3) Examples of good practice in NGO laws,  (4) Additional information and best practices on various modes of CSO participation in various stages of parliamentary deliberation; and (5) Additional information on ASEAN-Accredited CSOs which could become potential partners for engagement.

He expressed hope that something significant, new and worthwhile will come out of this workshop, new knowledge, new insights, new discovery and renewal of bonds of friendships that always characterize the AIPA community.

Ms. Nicole Heppner, GIZ Principal Advisor

On behalf of GIZ, Ms. Nicole Heppner, GIZ Principal Advisor welcomed all participants to this second workshop on Networking and Outreach with Civil Society Organizations. She conveyed her gratitude to Honorable Datuk Awang Alik Jeman, for generously hosting the event, and Secretary General Hon. P.O. Ram and his team for the good cooperation and their continuous commitment.

She said, when preparing for this workshop she came across an article which mentioned characteristics of relations between parliament and civil society; the interrelations with civil society are taken–by both parties–as part of a learning process, the interactions formed with civil society should imply participation besides consultation. The application of these arguments ground for the legislative procedure to be more open and transparent, to react sensitively to the changes occurring in society, but mostly it serves to improve the quality of legislation.

She continued by saying that there are different modes of dialogue with the civil society, most frequently applied are public hearings and the presentation of written opinions. These practices might be followed by round tables, by participation of civil organizations at committee conferences and events. In some member states of the EU e.g. there are also other “specialties” as e.g. referendums or petitions. The latter recently became quite “famous” during the BREXIT process in Great Britain.

She emphasized that when analysing the relations between parliament and civil society, it is important to identify the roles of the involved parties and the set of rules that guide these relations. These workshop series comes into play as the over-all objective to develop a framework on how AIPA member parliaments will engage CSOs, as partners in performing their mandate to pass legislation and oversee its implementation, and with it, contribute in the building of the ASEAN community.

She recalled that participants in the 1st CSO workshop held in Bangkok in November 2015 agreed on how AIPA should engage the CSOs for partnerships, so collective feedback will be considered to fine tune the draft resolution, so that it will be presented for consideration at the 38th AIPA General Assembly which will be held in the Philippines next year. She concluded her remarks by looking forward to the discussions and inputs and wished everyone an interesting and successful workshop.

The Workshop

Dr.Birgit Laubach, facilitator to the workshop reviewed past workshop’s result shared among parliament staff on Civil Society Organizations’ participation in the policy making process. CSOs participatory status in parliamentary policy making process varies in ASEAN Member States. Requirement applies for CSOs to obtain its status is stipulated in the government ruling.

CSOs Parliamentary participatory mechanism is formed through consultation procedures and dialogue which is a common practice among ASEAN Member States. In Europe, Finland is a country that has the most advanced involvement of CSOs in legal drafting, while among ASEAN Member States CSOs involvement in parliamentary process ranged from minimal to moderate and fair.

On question how CSOs can participate in the bill drafting, experiences in some countries show that though sometimes CSOs can be involved in the bill drafting, it is often not without difficulties in term of procedure, identifying and verifying CSOs. Channel of consultation is created to consider CSOs’ voice into parliamentary process, and through consultation mechanism CSOs have the support although they do not have direct involvement with parliament. This explanation on CSO-Parliament relation shows that in most countries in this region there is no direct CSOs participatory in parliamentary process. CSOs’ participation level rely on how consultation channel can play an effective role in the whole process of CSOs participation in parliamentary policy formulation.

Parliamentarians may also communicate directly with CSOs, particularly on specific issue, while CSOs can also rely on political parties depends on the socio-political setting that allow CSOs to voice their concern and ideas. The question continued to what formal procedure is needed for CSOs involvement with parliament, and who should determine the procedure and what participation tools can be created. The response is in some parliament, workshop is organized where CSOs can be invited to present their thoughts in the bill drafting, and often experts from developed countries are also invited to share their experiences in dealing with CSOs involvement in parliamentary process.

On the question on how the implementation, monitoring and reformulation of the laws passed by parliament can be part of the attention of the CSOs, and what role CSOs can have when laws come to implementation, and what are parliament functions in the cycle of the political decision making process. Most practices among ASEAN Member States with regard to these questions show that the role of government (executives) are vital to the drafting of the bills, its formulation and implementation.

On the pitfalls and disadvantages of CSOs participation in parliamentary process CSOs participation may cause lengthier and longer parliamentary process. Delay in parliamentary process often leads to financial issue. Identifying qualified and expert CSOs in the elaboration of bill drafting remains a challenge. Mechanism of parliamentary process that involve CSOs can also incite conflicting interests when different views from different pressure groups in the society hamper the efforts to reach agreement in the bill drafting.

Laws on CSOs may not be pre-requisite for CSOs-parliament engagement as shown in Germany, where there are a lot of informal consultation between MPs, Parliamentary groups and CSOs take place. The Rules of Procedure regulate public hearings and so called study groups. A study group on issues consists of parliamentarians and representatives from CSOs and academic. This study group will seat for a period of time to examine and prepare decisions on wide-ranging and significant issues. In a multi-racial society, parliament can encounter conflicting interests stemmed from differences in the society, particularly when there is a broad spectrum of political divides in the country. Budget need is also crucial to accommodate inputs proposed by CSOs adequately.

Particular law or guidelines on CSOs’ engagement in parliamentary processes among ASEAN Member States are still under consideration, while to some, their existing law of non-governmental organizations is not necessarily facilitating CSOs-parliament engagement. Law that stipulates status for CSOs may also create conflict or rivalries among various CSOs that carry different interest and goals. Common practice among all is, government or parliament as principal will invite CSOs to public hearing on a bill or other parliamentary issues under discussion. In many countries 2/3 of bill drafting produced by the executive and 1/3 produced by parliament.

Notes/Comments from workshop participants on CSOs engagement with parliamentary process;

– Not every best practices are feasible

– Both sides’ (CSOs and parliament) needed to be heard for better understanding of each other’s perspectives

– Public hearing is key to CSOs parliamentary-participatory process

– On line tools can be developed to facilitate CSOs-parliament engagement

– Law or guidelines on CSO-participation in parliamentary processes are important to obtain genuine information from the society

– Defining framework for CSOs participation in parliamentary process is important  (currently their participation is limited)

– More engagement of CSOs in bill drafting is key to expand and enhance public political participation in policy making process

– Careful accommodation of CSOs involvement in parliamentary process applies to avoid social political conflict

– How CSOs can be involved in the crafting of the platform for engagement

– Negative and Positive sides of CSOs-parliament engagement needs to be assessed

– CSOs participation in parliamentary process is for the best interest of the people

– Clarity of the role and function of CSOs is for the benefit of the people, hence there is a need for parliament to open their access to CSOs

– Though CSOs participation in parliamentary process is still limited, encouraging both CSOs and parliament for a more genuine and cooperative engagement is important

– There are many tools on CSOs-parliament engagement, but cultural and political setting in different countries may lead to different models of engagement

– To set up new mechanism for CSOs participation in parliamentary process, and to create best practices

Group Discussion on the draft of a resolution on “AIPA Policy Framework on Networking and Outreach with Civil Society Organizations” focusing on how AIPA promotes networking and engagement between CSOs and parliament. The draft was presented, discussed, amended and to be further discussed at the third workshop on Networking and Outreach with CSOs.

Discussion on the creation of network of professionals promoting the engagement of CSOs in policy formulation for effective governance among AIPA Member Parliament, focusing on how CSOs-parliament engagement can also be harnessed trough available mechanism AIPA has established such as the AIPA Connect. However details on this mechanism will need more elaborative discussion.


 Closing Remarks by Hon. Datuk Roosme Hamzah

Secretary of the House of Representatives of Malaysia

Parliament of Malaysia was honored to be given the opportunity to host the second AIPA Workshop on “Networking and Outreach with Civil Society Organizations” of which the first workshop was hosted by the National Legislative Assembly of Thailand in November last year.

She hoped participants’ expectation in terms of workshop facilities had been met with the hosting of the workshop by Parliament of Malaysia. The committee meeting room where the workshop was held is a temporary building as the parliamentary complex is undergoing massive renovation.

Secretary Hon. Datuk Roosme thanked Secretary General Hon. Mr. P.O. Ram who in her view had been instrumental in formulating and implementing AIPA Capacity Development Project and had been supportive when Parliament of Malaysia hosted the 36th AIPA General Assembly and the 12th AIFOCOM Meeting in 2015. She also extended her thanks and appreciation to GIZ for providing the support and cooperation for AIPA, and to Dr. Birgit Laubach, the facilitator cum recourse person for the workshop, and Mr. Bernard Agawin of GIZ the co-facilitator.

She emphasized that being the legislative arm and important partner of ASEAN, AIPA member parliaments must equip themselves with necessary skills and knowledge to help ASEAN achieve its objectives and goals. In the midst of this important era, with the establishment of the ASEAN Community, it is acknowledged in many ASEAN and AIPA forum that the involvement of every fabric in the society is vital to make a successful and truly vibrant ASEAN Community.

The Workshop on “Networking and Outreach with Civil Society Organizations” would be beneficial and valuable carrying out roles more effectively as CSOs are regarded as important entities in mediating between the society and their government. In her conclusive remarks, she once again thanked all the participants, the AIPA Secretariat and staff of Parliament of Malaysia who have been working hard to make the workshop a success. She wished all participants enjoy the Malaysian hospitality and declared the workshop closed.

Closing Note

The Workshop was well organized to achieve the desired results with open and frank discussion on challenges and obstacles with regard to CSOs participation on policy formulation for politics. It also provided an opportunity to examine the real facts surrounding the current issues on formulating mechanism for CSOs parliamentary participation which will benefit AIPA and ASEAN.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

3rd August 2016

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