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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

House erupts over spending bill glitch

The Dewan Rakyat Speaker, however, passed the bill citing it was in compliance with Development Act 1966.

KUALA LUMPUR: Parliament erupted today after Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia shot down an opposition MP’s move to declare a supplementary expenditure by the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry as unconstitutional.

Earlier, Pandikar Amin adjourned the sitting for 15 minutes after PKR’s Indera Mahkota MP Azan Ismail pointed out a glitch when the ministry did not include RM133 million spending in its Supply Bill, which is required under the Article 101 of the Federal Constitution.

“If Parliament approves this without having the spending included in the bill, it becomes unconstitutional,” Azan said at a press conference.

Azan, along with other opposition MPs, said that it was negligent of the government to overlook this requirement, adding that it was pertinent to debate every single sen spent from taxpayers’ money.

However, Pandikar Amin dismissed the argument, saying after the break that the government was not required to do so as provided under the Development Funds Act 1966.

“Besides, it has been a practice for many years until the Indera Mahkota MP brought this up.We can have courses and seminars to educate lawmakers on this,” Pandikar Amin said.

Parliament subsequently erupted into a verbal warfare with several opposition MPs rising up to accuse their BN counterparts of “low standards” when dealing with parliamentary affairs.

Leading the charge was Balik Pulau MP Yusmadi Yusoff who said that the provision under the Federal Constitution overwrote the Development Funds Act (which was the basis of Pandikar Amin and Deputy Finance Minister Awang Adek Husin’s argument).

Failing to control the ruckus for nearly 40 minutes, Pandikar Amin pushed the bill through and declared that his decision cannot be reversed.

Contempt of the House

Later at a press conference, Azan and Yusmadi said both the Development Act and Article 101 of the Federal Constitution cannot be read together.

They said that Pandikar Amin’s decision to pass the Supplementary Bill based on customary practices was unacceptable, adding that any move to approve spending without debate can be considered as contempt of the House.

“We continued the proceedings under protest. We do not want a single sen of the taxpayers’ money to be spent without scrutiny,” Yusmadi said, adding that the behaviour of BN MPs to bulldoze the bill without debate reflected their “low quality”.

Yusmadi also claimed he was threatened by a BN MP during the ruckus and demanded an open apology.

“What he did was uncalled for,” he said. - FMT

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