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Monday, July 26, 2021

‘Semua Orang Pening’ at fiery first day of Dewan sitting

 

The special sitting of the Dewan Rakyat got off to a chaotic start with the speaker, the prime minister and the de facto law minister all coming under fire. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: After a seven-month lull, legislative business at the Dewan Rakyat resumed with a riotous start to a special five-day sitting, with everyone left reeling.

There was no shortage of verbal bullets flying, as both sides fired salvoes at each other.

The biggest explosion came with a bombshell revelation that Emergency ordinances had been revoked since July 21. Most MPs were left stunned, asking why there had been no announcement on the matter.

Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim went as far as to say that if the government could announce the prime minister’s diarrhoea, there was no reason not to announce the revocation.

Former prime minister Najib Razak and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim questioned if the government was trying to run away from a vote in the Dewan by pre-emptively lifting the ordinances.

Opposition MPs were also puzzled with the sudden “pasar malam” style announcement by de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan on the revocation of the Emergency ordinances.

Questions seeking answers

The big question on everyone’s mind was: shouldn’t it be first laid out in Parliament or announced by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong?

There were other questions, too. Would the rakyat still need to pay fines if Emergency ordinances have been revoked? Is any action by any authority using the ordinance over the last five days valid? Can those who were arrested take legal action against the authorities?

From the word go, MPs let fly with outbursts of fiery questions, snide remarks and confusion.

Missing in action

Then came the case of the missing prime minister.

Muhyiddin Yassin had been present to make the opening remarks on the National Recovery Plan to fight Covid-19, but did a disappearing act afterwards and was conspicuously absent at the close.

This caused an uproar as MPs demanded that the prime minister answer their questions on Emergency, health crisis and over the sudden opening of schools on Sept 1.

They demanded that SOPs be laid out to allay concerns by parents who do not know if their children will be safe in schools.

Finance minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz stood up to answer but instead had to take the heat for the missing Muhyiddin.

Azhar under fire

MPs also grilled the government over the delay in holding a parliamentary sitting, questioning how the billions in economic stimulus packages had been spent.

With the opposition taking centre stage, the MPs on the government side could only listen patiently.

They did get upset and noisy when Ramkarpal Singh (DAP- Bukit Gelugor) roared at speaker Azhar Azizan Harun, challenging him to step down for allegedly taking instructions from the government and for his decision to not table the Emergency ordinance at the Dewan Rakyat.

Ramkarpal even asked Azhar if he was a “government lapdog”.

Being a lawyer, he said Azhar should understand Emergency ordinances and that any proclamation of Emergency must be brought to Parliament.

“You have disgraced this Dewan. You are not fit to chair,” he told Azhar, riling up government MPs who demanded that Ramkarpal retract his statement.

Shahidan to PN’s rescue

While Bersatu is the backbone of the PN government, it was Umno man Shahidan Kassim (BN-Arau) who stood up to defend the government, challenging the opposition to prove that the government had failed.

He said the government has taken steps to distribute food baskets and ramp up vaccination, stating that Malaysia’s vaccination rollout was now the highest among various countries.

Anwar v Azmin

Anwar and his former protege Azmin Ali also went head to head over the rise in Covid-19 cases, with the opposition leader saying that the international trade and industry minister was looking “emotional” over the surge in workplace clusters. The health ministry has said 80% of workplace clusters stemmed from factories.

A flustered Azmin, however, defended his ministry saying it was a collective decision made by the National Security Council.

Wilfred sets the tone

It really was a day of madness, with MPs pulling all directions.

Wilfred Madius Tangau (Upko-Tuaran) probably summed up the first day sitting well – he said the SOPs stood for “Semua Orang Pening”.

He, of course, was referring to the SOPs introduced over the past few months – with MCOs, EMCOs, and the different phases of recovery – that have left people confused. -FMT

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