Things you may have missed at Dewan Rakyat

Lawmakers passed a total of 16 Bills, with the Supply Bill (Budget) 2020 dominating debates for much of this sitting

pic by BERNAMA

DEWAN Rakyat concluded its final meeting for the year yesterday after an eventful 36-day sitting which began in October. Lawmakers will gather again after the year-end recess in March 2020.

The last two months saw a couple of historic firsts, including the tabling of the country’s primary Defence White Paper and a landmark bill to limit the tenure of prime minister (PM) to two terms.

Lawmakers passed a total of 16 Bills, with the Supply Bill (Budget) 2020 dominating debates for much of this sitting. The attendance of MPs was also a popular bone of contention with one too many proceedings halted due to lack of quorum.

Drama, as anticipated, was aplenty both inside and outside the Dewan Rakyat throughout the meeting. The Malaysian Reserve takes a look at some details you may have missed:

No Shortage of Theatrics

Whether it is challenging the Speaker’s orders or the use of foul language in the Parliament, several MPs found themselves booted out and suspended for days for disrupting proceedings with their antics.

It doesn’t take much to throw political backbenchers on both sides of the divide into a war of words. This sitting was no different.

Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (Barisan Nasional [BN]-Pasir Salak), a known rabble-rouser among MPs, has on more than one occasion struck a nerve with government lawmakers.

Most recently, his controversial remark comparing the Hindu holy ash worn by RSN Rayer (Pakatan Harapan [PH]-Jelutong) to the ashes of the late Malayan Communist Party leader Chin Peng caused uproar, with Rayer demanding Tajuddin to retract his statement as it was made with malicious intent.

Other MPs joined the argument before Khoo Poay Tiong (PH-Kota Melaka) called for a stern action to be taken against Tajuddin.

Unwilling to tolerate the row any longer, Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof instructed both Tajuddin and Khoo to leave the Dewan Rakyat.

Tajuddin, a third-term MP and a former deputy minister, also left his mark outside the Dewan Rakyat when he was caught in a shouting match with Datuk Seri Ismail Mohamed Said (BN-Kuala Krau) at the lobby only for the two to publicly kiss and make up hours later.

The Umno lawmakers, however, weren’t the only ones who made the Parliament a place of reconciliation.

Leaders from the PKR camp were also seen making amends just days before the party’s annual congress this weekend.

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his deputy Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali yesterday held a meeting after weeks of postulated infighting.

Azmin, who has chosen to stay away from party events citing federal duties, has since confirmed his attendance at the PKR national congress. Is this the end of the internal bickering? Only time will tell.

Rosmee bid farewell yesterday after serving the lower house for 19 years

Too Tired and Too Cold

Poor attendance became a prevalent issue this sitting after a couple of proceedings were temporarily halted due to lack of quorum.

Parliamentary Standing Orders states a minimum of 26 MPs must be in the lower house.

Opposition MPs even called for a bloc vote for the Budget 2020 allocation for the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to highlight the severity of the matter.

PKR chief whip Datuk Johari Abdul later cited fatigue and late-night shifts as reasons for the unsatisfactory attendance, while Deputy Minister in the PM’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin said the House’s air-conditioning system made the proceeding hall too cold.

Despite tit-for-tat accusations on lack of attendance coming from both ends of the political divide, the two sides are equally guilty.

At 3pm yesterday, the atten- dance count in the Dewan Rakyat was 42 MPs, with 34 on the government bench and eight from the Opposition.

In and Out

The Dewan Rakyat also witnessed the entry of the newly elected Tanjung Piai MP Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng, who won the seat by a landslide 15,086-vote majority.

Wee is only the second elected MP from MCA. Party president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, who is Ayer Hitam MP, is the other MP from MCA.

The Tanjung Piai seat fell vacant after Deputy Minister in the PM’s Department, Datuk Dr Mohamed Farid Md Rafik (PH) died on Sept 21 due to heart complications. The by-election is the ninth held after the 14th General Election.

Jeck Seng garnered 25,466 votes, defeating PH candidate Karmaine Sardini who received 10,380 votes, and four other candidates.

He was sworn-in almost immediately, less than 48 hours after the victory. Jeck Seng took his oath in front of Mohamad Ariff, who congratulated him for winning the parliamentary seat.

Heading the opposite direction, meanwhile, is Dewan Rakyat secretary Datuk Rosmee Hamzah who bid farewell after serving the lower house for 19 years.

She was known among many as the “voice of Parliament” or “Madam Parliament”.

She will be retiring in February 2020, a month before the lower house commences for its first sitting of the year. Rosmee had been secretary of the House since 2007, the first woman to have held the position since 1959.

The secretary is responsible for the proceedings of the House and assists the Speaker on matters regarding the House during these proceedings.

Deputy Speaker Nga Kor Ming shared appreciation on behalf of all MPs before proceedings commenced yesterday morning.

“For the information of the House, today is the last day for Datuk Rosmee Hamzah to be in charge of Dewan Rakyat affairs, after 40 years in the public service and 19 years of serving this august House,” said Nga, followed by a round of applause from parliamentarians.

Nga said Rosmee’s services were greatly appreciated and would be remembered.