Monday, July 26, 2021

Govt "lapdog" lost his head

Special Parliament sitting: MPs demand voting, speaker blows his top

PARLIAMENT | After about an hour of opposition MPs expressing their disagreement and discontent on the first day of the special parliamentary sitting this morning, Dewan Rakyat speaker Azhar Azizan Harun shut them down by ruling against “everything” they said.

“Sit down. Because none of you MPs want to listen to me, I only have one thing to say. I do not agree with everything you said. Let us continue,” an enraged Azhar said after he tried to deliver a ruling on the arguments made by the MPs but was constantly interrupted.

In response, a chorus of “We don’t agree with you,” arose from the opposition.

Earlier, a number of opposition MPs had stood up one after another to present their point of orders expressing their dissatisfaction, following Azhar’s opening remarks in the Dewan Rakyat today.

The speaker had said that MPs would be allowed to ask questions and debate on the briefings from the ministers, but Gobind Singh Deo (Harapan-Puchong) asked if questions and debates were allowed, why are MPs not voting on anything this session.

“I see the speaker said you will give space for questions to be asked and debates to be made, but why stop there?” he asked.

He added that the government has failed in handling the Covid-19 pandemic, pointing to the record daily number of cases yesterday which breached the 17,000-mark.

“It is clear enough that this government has failed and this is something that should be decided in this Dewan (with a vote),” he said.

Previously, the speaker rejected five motions submitted by Anwar Ibrahim (Harapan-Port Dickson) and Ngeh Koo Ham (Harapan-Beruas), which, among others, called for a debate on the emergency and its annulment.

In today’s sitting, William Leong (Harapan-Selayang) was one of the MPs who urged the speaker to allow Anwar and Ngeh’s motions to be tabled and debated in this session.

“Speaker, you are for all Malaysians. I ask the speaker to review his decision so that the motions from Port Dickson and Beruas can be debated and a vote, as well as a decision, can be made.

“When the motions were rejected, the basic structure of the (Federal) Constitution is destroyed because the legislative rights are the right of this House, not the right of the executive, and this includes the Emergency Ordinances,” Leong said.

He was also among the MPs who insisted that the Standing Order 11(3), under which the special parliamentary sitting was called, could not be superseded by the Federal Constitution, specifically Article 150(3).

Article 150(3) states that a proclamation of emergency and any ordinances “shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament and, if not sooner revoked, shall cease to have effect if resolutions are passed by both Houses annulling such proclamation or ordinance”.

“There is a mechanism for the executive to have certain powers under the emergency when the Parliament is not sitting… but Article 150(3) says that when Parliament is sitting, it is our right and duty to decide (on the emergency).

“If not, the role of Parliament will be destroyed,” Leong said.

In his reply to the opposition MPs, Azhar insisted that the special sitting is in line with both the Standing Orders and the Constitution, referring again to Standing Orders 11(3).

Standing Orders 11(3) states that the prime minister can make a representation to the speaker that there is public interest that requires the House to meet at an earlier date.

It also states that “the business set down for that day shall be appointed by the prime minister”.

Azhar stressed that this particular provision was unique in that the prime minister is the one with the prerogative to appoint the business for the day of the sitting.

“The language used is ‘shall be appointed by the prime minister’, it’s very specific,” he explained.

He also pointed to the practice for special sittings in the House of Commons in the UK, saying they have a similar provision for special parliamentary sittings.

“We have special sitings here and the House of Commons also has its special sittings, except their business of the day is appointed by the government, and ours is by the prime minister. It is similar,” Azhar said.

Dewan Rakyat speaker Azhar Azizan Harun

As he attempted to explain, opposition MPs kept interrupting him, including Salahuddin Ayub (Harapan-Pulai) who accused the speaker of trying to mislead the House.

The constant interruptions led to an outburst from Azhar, before he ruled that he did not agree with everything they had said.

“You keep bringing up the Standing Orders but you yourself do not follow the Standing Orders. The Standing Orders say when I am speaking, the MPs have to keep quiet.

“Don’t only listen to the Standing Orders when it is in your favour. It applies across the board,” he said.

Earlier, some opposition MPs also took potshots at Azhar in their arguments, with Ramkarpal Singh (Harapan-Bukit Gelugor) questioning whether the speaker was a “government lapdog”.

Ramkarpal said Azhar was a lawyer who should be aware that the rules which regulate the House cannot supersede the Federal Constitution.

“As a lawyer, you, the speaker, did not bring the ordinances and the emergency proclamation to the House. Why is that?

“Are you a government lapdog?” he questioned twice.

“You have disgraced this House, you are not fit to sit in that chair,” he said.

Though there were calls asking Ramkarpal to retract his words, he continued with his scathing remarks against Azhar, questioning whether the speaker had an agenda with the government.

“If there is, resign. Or we will submit a motion perhaps for you to relinquish your seat,” he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment