Malaysiakini News

Where is the speaker’s independence?

P Ramakrishnan  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | The notion that the speaker was independent and not beholden to anybody was shattered beyond any repair on April 6, 2017, the last day of the parliamentary session. On this day, the speaker lost his credibility completely.

His conduct shocked thinking Malaysians and angered concerned Members of Parliament.

Why on earth did he allow PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang to table his motion and permit Kota Baru MP Takiyuddin Hassan to support it? Then all of a sudden, inexplicably, he called off the debate on this bill and adjourned the parliamentary sitting in a move that baffled parliamentarians who had come prepared to debate the bill.

What was his reason?

The speaker explained his alarming conduct by saying that the Dewan Rakyat was on a marathon session for almost 20 hours the day before, with the session ending at 5.05am on Thursday, setting a new record as the longest Parliament session.

As a result, some of the parliamentary staff had to sleep in the office (to continue the next day), and he himself was deprived of sleep, Pandikar said.

This was the reason, he, as the speaker, decided to end Friday’s session earlier than usual, he added.

His reasoning was unconvincing and totally absurd. It contradicted facts and did him no credit.

After a gruelling all-night session, common sense would dictate that the bill should have been brought forward to the next sitting of Parliament. What was the urgency in allowing the bill to be tabled without it being debated? It didn’t make sense.

After the Barisan Nasional (BN) supreme council Meeting on March 30, 2017, it was announced that the BN would not move Act 355 and that it was up to the speaker to decide whether this bill would be tabled by Hadi.

This is not true. Hadi does not have this authority. It is the BN minister who ultimately decides the items on the Order Paper.

Hadi’s bill appeared way down at the bottom as No 13. Going by the normal process, it would not have seen the light of day during this session because government matters always enjoyed precedence over a private member’s bill.

But this was made possible by the connivance of Umno. To facilitate Hadi to table his bill, four remaining government bills were withdrawn from the Order Paper - thus paving the way for Hadi’s bill to appear as No 1 and the only bill to be debated on the last day of parliamentary sitting...

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