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Thursday, July 29, 2021

A revelation, four suspensions, and a lost agenda

 

Fire and rescue department officers helping to sanitise the Dewan Rakyat. The sitting had to be suspended four times due to Covid-19 cases in Parliament. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The fourth day of the Dewan Rakyat “special sitting” saw a record of sorts – four rounds of suspensions – with the day’s agenda completely forgotten after an explosive revelation early in the day.

The order of the day was for finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz to brief the MPs and answer questions on the various economic stimulus packages announced since last year but Zaful never had the floor after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim read out a statement by the King that he had not consented to the revocation of the emergency ordinances, as announced by law minister Takiyuddin Hassan on Monday.

That brought the House to its feet with opposition MPs shouting “derhaka” (treason) and “letak jawatan” (resign) and the sitting was suspended at 12.30pm “for 15 minutes”. It was further suspended at 12.45pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm before finally being adjourned altogether.

Unnecessary suspension

PKR’s Subang MP Wong Chen said the suspension was unnecessary and the order of the day could have continued. He said he wanted to raise issues on the country’s balance sheet and cash flow.

“We have no details on this. How is the government planning to increase revenue and what did they do with money from the National Trust Fund (KWAN)?” he asked.

He was referring to the RM5 billion that the government appropriated from KWAN, using the emergency ordinance, for the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as for the country’s immunisation programme.

DAP’s Charles Santiago said the PH coalition was not sure if there would be proceedings on Monday.

“They should extend Parliament so the government is held accountable to the people,” he said, adding that it was not known if the stimulus packages had reached the targeted groups.

The Klang MP said he wanted to raise issues relating to the Employment Insurance Scheme (EIS) which only pays retrenched staff for six months.

“The six months have come and gone, and those affected will not have enough money,” he said, adding that the government also needs to have measures for the unemployed.

Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim said Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin should have just addressed the Palace statement so that the order of the day could continue.

Now, he said there are many unanswered questions on the country’s finances.

Covid-19 testing

The suspensions were later attributed to an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Parliament with the MPs and Parliament staff ordered to undergo Covid-19 testing at 3.30pm today while some Cabinet members had already left for the prime minister’s residence.

That led to more protests as MPs asked why some ministers were allowed to leave Parliament, while they were barred from leaving the building until after they were tested.

The speaker, the silencer

The performance of Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun had also come under question, especially after he ruled that law minister Takiyuddin Hassan need not explain the revocation of the emergency ordinance until Monday.

Yesterday, he ordered Hannah Yeoh (DAP-Segambut) to shut up and switched off microphones when she asked for extended hours.

Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto said the speaker had been irritable since Monday, adding that a lot of MPs were not allowed time to debate due to the time limit to end the Dewan at 5.30pm.

She, too, was not given time on Monday even though she was slated to speak. “It was on women’s issues. I just needed five minutes. He kept shutting me off and he was irritable,” Kasthuri said.

“It is not only about unparliamentary language but it also sends a bad message to others watching. I hope they are not influenced by the behaviour of the Speaker.”

Five women’s groups have since criticised the Speaker for the way he treated the women MPs, demanding that he apologise for his attitude. - FMT

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