Pakatan, Umno trade 'treason' barbs

In the end, the move to amend the state charter failed, but not before a full day had passed filled with finger-pointing, name-calling and shouts of 'treason!' and 'hypocrites!

NONEThe state government's move to amend the state constitution so as to give the sultan and the menteri besar greater say over the appointment of senior state officials was defeated after the House failed to reach a two-thirds majority in favour of the amendment.

A total of 34 elected representatives vote for the amendment, while all 20 BN representatives voted against it. The Pakatan Rakyat-led government needed 38 votes.

Port Klang's Badrul Hisham Abdullah, who was not allowed into the House, could not vote.

This morning, elected representatives, assembly staff and journalists turned up early for the debate on the constitutional amendment at the Selangor state assembly in Shah Alam.

NONETwo small truckloads of uniformed police personnel had converged at the entrance to the state assembly, with a third truck seen further, near Wisma MBSA, in anticipation of anti-Selangor government protesters.

The entrance and exit gates of the state assembly were half-closed, with enough room for just one car to pass.

The Pakatan government in tabling the amendment to the state constitution, said it will return power to the Selangor sultan in deciding key state appointments.

NONEThe opposition, however, accused the government of plotting to increase the powers of the menteri besar in deciding the appointments.

The proposed amendment came about after the federal government appointed former Selangor Islamic Affairs Department director Mohd Khusrin Munawi as the new state secretary.

The Selangor government strongly opposes the move, accusing Putrajaya of usurping its powers by appointing Khusrin without consulting the menteri besar.

However, the Selangor sultan has given his consent to Khusrin's appointment, and presided over his swearing-in at a state ceremony on Jan 5.

 


 

LIVE REPORTS

9.30am: Port Klang state assemblyperson Badrul Hisham Abdullah - whose seat was declared vacant last Wednesday due to alleged absence without leave - arrives at the state assembly, accompanied by two aides.

NONEHe is immediately greeted by a throng of photographers, catching the elected representative by surprise. "Wah, banyak peminat ni." (Wow, so many fans).

Badrul refuses to answer questions, waving away journalists who asked whether or not he has filed his court challenge against speaker Teng Chang Khim's recent declaration that the Port Klang state seat is vacant.

NONE9.32am: About 200 people gather at Dataran Shah Alam, under close watch of the police. Some of them are wearing GAPS (Gagasan Anti Penyelewengan Selangor) headbands. Four Light Strike Force units are also on standby at the main gate. The crowd soon grows to about 500 as the morning progresses.

9.40am: Pressed by journalists, Port Klang rep Badrul Hisham says he will file the court challenge later this afternoon after attending the sitting.

However, it is still not clear whether he will be allowed to enter the House given that his seat has been declared vacant.

NONE10am: The sitting convenes. Badrul (left) is sitting in the media observation room, which is situated one floor above the House. He gets up a few times to take pictures of the proceedings.

The assembly secretary reads out the royal address on behalf of Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah. 

The sultan urges all elected representatives to debate the Bill with decorum and not to misconstrue his signing his consent to the assembly sitting as support for any party in the House.

He also tells state assemblypersons to avoid dragging him into political spats. "The royalty is and always will remain apolitical," says the ruler.

10.24am: Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim reads his speech. As provided for under Article 10(3) of the state constitution, the Selangor government is tabling an amendment to the 1959 state charter, over Article 52(1), in particular, says the MB. 

The amendment is proposed so that future generations are no longer in the dark and there are no individuals or parties that dare to breach the powers of the state government or the sultan, says Khalid.

Pakatan Rakyat is committed to upholding the federal and state constitutions as well as the Rukun Negara, which serve as the bases of the Selangor government today, he adds.

On the same principles, Pakatan is also committed to upholding the position and role of the Malay rulers as enshrined in the federal constitution.

NONE10.30am: Outside the state assembly, five representatives of anti-Selangor government group Gaps wait to submit their memorandum on the constitutional amendment to state opposition leader Satim Diman (BN-Seri Serdang).

10.50am: At a press conference in the lobby outside the hall, Port Klang's Badrul Hisham says he was barred from entering the House by security personnel.
 
NONEHe says he tried to argue with the security officers by showing them an invitation letter dated Jan 11 by the speaker.

He was, however, told that this was the latest directive from the speaker which was issued this morning.
 
Badrul Hisham says he will file an application to seek a court declaration on the matter of his seat as soon as possible. "Maybe" the suit will be filed this afternoon, says Badrul.

He also claims he is still the legitimate 'YB' for Port Klang, and will continue to serve the people.

11.20am: MB Khalid finishes his speech, but not before posing three questions to the government's detractors:

NONE"Is it extreme if we seek to return the powers of the sultan and the state government that had been seized by Umno at the federal level and used by Selangor Umno-BN leaders?

"Are we committing treason if we wish to return sovereignty to the state government and the sultan who rules this state?

"Are they committing treason if they reject or run away from accepting the proposed amendments?"

Newly-appointed state opposition leader Satim Diman (BN-Seri Serdang) then starts his speech.

Soon after, however, Satim is reprimanded by the speaker when he questions Teng for calling the sitting without 14 days' notice.

Teng says Satim should have memorised the Standing Orders before raising the matter in the Dewan.

"If you still remain stubborn, I will ask you to go out. Please memorise (the standing order) first," says Teng.

Pakatan supporters can be heard cheering loudly in the assembly lobby.

11.25am: Satim is the first to debate the amendment, telling the Pakatan-led state government to stop being syok sendiri (absorbed with themselves) in tabling such amendments.

He says Selangor Umno will never support the proposed amendment as it goes against the federal constitution and is politically-motivated.

"This only shows how the Pakatan Rakyat government are hypocrites and the proposed amendment is clearly insincere.

"The previous BN government never turned its back on the sultan. But you see in the appointment of Mohd Khusrin Munawi as state secretary, it was the menteri besar who could not accept the sultan's consent to Mohd Khusrin's appointment," he says.

11.41am: Satim repeatedly accuses Pakatan representatives of being biadap (disrespectful) and derhaka (treasonous) against the sultan in the many things they have done, from their alleged disregard of the Selangor Fatwa Council's ruling on the use of 'Allah', to the blog post by Shuhaimie Shafiei (PKR-Seri Muda) that some alleged had attacked the sultan.

12.10pm: Selangor backbenchers club chairperson Azmin Ali (PKR - Bukit Antarabangsa) says Umno would be committing treason if the Malay-based party refuses to support the amendment Bill.

"Is Umno committing treason if they run away from supporting this amendment Bill? It is clear that it is Umno who is treasonous to the royal institution and system," he tells the House.

Although Umno can twist the facts when using the mainstream media, it cannot twist history, says Azmin.

"Selangor people will remember forever that it was Umno who damaged and sank the royal institution," he says.

azmin ali pc in parliament 020709 0212.35pm: Azmin riles up the opposition bench when he uses the term 'Mamak Bendahara' in taking a swipe at former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad for allegedly committing treason against the Malay rulers.

Azmin says Umno has long enjoyed immunity under the rule of the 'Mamak Bendahara' and the executive, sparking protests from Umno's Taman Templer assemblyperson Subahan Kamal.

Subahan says Azmin was being malicious in using the term mamak, a colloquial reference to Indian-Muslims.

Shamsudin Lias (Umno-Sungai Burong) stands in support of Subahan, demanding that Azmin retract the word mamak, claiming the backbenchers' chief was using the term in a derogatory reference to Subahan.

Azmin however takes another swipe at the opposition for having a "shallow" knowledge of classic Malay prose, explaining to them that the term 'Mamak Bendahara' is the classic reference to the prime minister.

"If you don't even know terms used in classic Malay, how can you even begin to object?," he says, to laughter in the House.

Speaker Teng waves off the protests, throwing back a question to Shamsudin on how exactly Azmin's statement was malicious.

"How is it that the statement is malicious when the reference made actually elevates Taman Templer's status?" he asks to more laughter.

NONE1.10pm: About 30 Pakatan Youth stage a brief show of support in front of the state assembly building.

Led by Selangor PKR youth chief Khairul Anuar Zainudin, they hold up banners that read 'Daulat Tuanku!' and shout slogans such as "Daulat, daulat! Daulat Tuanku", (Long live his majesty), "Hidup, hidup! Hidup Rakyat!" (Long live the people) and "Penderhaka, penderhaka! Penderhaka Umno!" (Traitors, Umno traitors).

The group declares that the proposed amendment is a good move that will restore the sultan's powers and should be supported by all.

After 10 minutes, they disperse peacefully without any police intervention.

1pm: The sitting adjourns to 2.30pm.

2.47pm: The sitting resumes with Azmin continuing with his debate as the backbenchers' whip.

The debate has, however, gone off-tangent with opposition members epeatedly interjecting and citing article 36(6) of the Standing orders claiming that Azmin's statements were malicious.

Satim urges the speaker to remind Azmin not to go off-topic, when the latter mentioned the name of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in citing the premier's recent claim that Pakatan Rakyat's 100-day reform plan would lead the country to financial ruin.

"All right, I'll change it. Instead of saying 'Najib said', I'll say 'Rosmah said'," he says referring to Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor, drawing laughter from the House.

Including Satim and Azmin, 10 elected representatives are scheduled to debate the proposed amendment today.

3.25pm: Umno's Permatang assemblyperson Sulaiman Abdul Razak attacks the proposed amendment, calling it a ploy by the menteri besar and the state government to hit out at their new state secretary Mohammed Khusrin Munawi.

"This is a personal attack against Khusrin. He is known to be
strict, professional and of high integrity, in line with the goals of
the BN government," says Sulaiman.

NONEHe further says that Parliament, and not the state assembly, is the right place to decide on such amendments as the jurisdiction on such issues such as state appointments lie with the federal constitution.

4.30pm: Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim moves to extend the sitting till 7pm to allow all lawmakers a chance to speak on the proposed amendment.

Seri Muda state assemblyperson Shuhaimi Shafiei in turn debates the issue.

6.15pm: Voting for the second reading of the amendment commences. Teng announces that the House can only proceed if the assembly votes at least two-thirds in favour of it.

6.25pm: The state government's move to amend the state constitution is defeated, as the House fails to reach a two-thirds majority in proceeding to the second reading.

A total of 34 elected representatives vote for the amendment, while 20 vote against it. Pakatan needed 38 votes.

BN has 21 seats, including Port Klang, meaning that all BN state reps have voted against the Bill. Badrul was not allowed into the House.

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