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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Abide by sultan over late night sittings, Harapan tells Pandikar

Opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan today urged Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulis to abide by the Selangor sultan's decree against sittings which go past midnight, instead of shifting the blame on the opposition
This includes ensuring that the Dewan Rakyat sits for at least 80 days a year, it said in a statement.
Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah while officiating the Conference of Parliamentary and State Assembly Speakers of Malaysia yesterday said sittings should not go beyond midnight as those involved will not be at their optimum capacity.
However, speaking to media after the speech, Pandikar said the Dewan Rakyat is forced to sit until the wee hours because the opposition failed to form a shadow cabinet which can go through draft legislation before it is tabled in the House.
In response, Harapan said sittings have to go on past midnight repeatedly because the Dewan Rakyat is sitting on fewer days since the 13th general election.
Since 2013, the Dewan Rakyat sat for an average 55.5 days a year, a far cry from in 2008 when it sat for 79 days.
In 2016, it sat for 53 days - a significant 30 percent less compared to in 2008 - while it is scheduled to only sit for 57 days this year.
In contrast, parliaments in Australia and United Kingdom sit for at least 150 days a year, it said.
The statement was jointly issued by Harapan chief secretary Saifuddin Abdullah, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar, Parti Amanah Negara's strategic director Dzulkefly Ahmad, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia's strategic director Rais Hussin and DAP's national political education director Liew Chin Tong.
Bills tabled days after passed
Harapan also pressed for more time to debate bills because MPs are kept in the dark about the bills until it is tabled in Parliament.
It urged for the formation of parliamentary select committees to review bills before they are tabled, instead of having them placed on MPs' desks on the day of debate as is the practice today.
It said this was included in the parliamentary reforms proposed by Pandikar in 2015, but was allegedly vetoed by the cabinet.
"In Malaysia, bills are tabled on MPs' desks a day or two before they are passed. This does not make sense. MPs do not have ample time to deeply review the bill and consult stakeholders. It makes a mockery of legislative processes in Malaysia," it said.

Harapan also noted that the sultan praised the Selangor's practice of having the opposition rep head the state equivalent of the public accounts committee (PAC) - the Selangor Competency, Accountability and Transparency Committee (Selcat).
As such, the coalition urged the Dewan Rakyat practice the same and appoint Opposition Leader Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to head the PAC, which is now headed by a BN MP.
Similarly, the coalition urges all states follow Selangor's practice of providing a free livestream of proceedings of the legislative assemblies.- Mkini

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