Storm in a teacup, Parliament sittings run smoothly after first day chaos


THE first day was full of drama – from the motion to vacate the post of Speaker, the new appointment to the post and that of Deputy Speaker, to the issue of ‘dark’ and ‘powder’ – which heated up the Dewan Rakyat sitting.

It turned out to be a ‘storm-in-a-teacup’ when the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government under the leadership of  Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin obtained majority votes to pass the motion brought by the Prime Minister.

The opposition members protested against the motion but it was finally passed when bloc voting saw 111 Members of Parliament (MPs) supporting it, 109 opposed while one was absent and another abstained.

Despite the narrow majority, the results showed that Muhyiddin had sufficient support from the MPs.

The appointment of Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said as Deputy Speaker was also historic for the nation as she was the first woman to occupy the seat.

Perhaps because it has been a while since the Parliamentarians debated as the Dewan Rakyat sat for only one day in May due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MPs, both in the opposition and government blocks, were clambering to give their views.

Maybe it was a test of Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun’s capabilities as Speaker after he replaced Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, that the MPs  grabbed at any topic to lash out at each other, resulting in the session being adjourned two hours earlier than usual.

However, despite the chaos which saw Khalid Abdul Samad (PH-Shah Alam) being escorted out until the end of the first day, the sitting passed the motion to appoint six members of the Select Committee for the 14th Parliament.

They were International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin, Bagan Datuk MP Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Marang MP Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Port Dickson MP Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

With the country still under threat of COVID-19, the parliament sitting was conducted within the new normal, complying with the tight standard operating procedure, including social distancing of MP’s seats, resulting in some of them being placed in the seats for officials.

However, the storm lasted only a day and the stern but fair stands of both Azhar and Azalina in making decisions while conducting the sittings on the following days won over both the government and opposition MPs.

“It is easy when we have an intelligent Speaker,” said Mohamed Hanipa Maidin (PH-Sepang) when Azhar made a ruling which favoured him during the debate on the motion of thanks to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Thursday.

The chaos on the first day aside, the sittings on subsequent days went smoothly even though words like “backdoor government” and “palace door government” were used by the opposition members in their speeches amidst protests from the government block.

The debate on the first four days focused on the issue of stateless children especially in Sabah and Sarawak; amendments to the Road Transport Act which will provide for a heavier penalty imposed on drivers under the influence of alcohol who cause fatal road accidents; the 15th General Election; and the financial standing of the Pilgrims Fund Board (TH).

Also discussed was whether there was a need to hold the 15th General Election.

This Monday, the Dewan Rakyat will resume with the MPs continuing their debate on the Royal Address.