Dewan Rakyat wraps up 2020

MPs approve a total of 20 bills this year and postpone 5, which are scheduled for next Parliament sitting


THE Dewan Rakyat had been a series of stirring sittings this year following the debates and passing of the Supply Bill (Budget) 2021, coupled with the country’s doubtful premiership as raised by MPs numerous times.

The MPs had been debating on the federal budget over the last seven weeks, which was eventually passed with a razor-thin majority of 111 to 108 in a bloc voting after its third reading.

The government will spend RM322.5 billion next year, up 2.5% from the allocation for 2020, to revive domestic economic activities following the downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The MPs approved a total of 20 bills this year and postponed five, which were scheduled for the next Parliament sitting.

The sitting at the lower house had an interesting development as both sides of the divide held almost equal numbers with 112 and 108 seats.

Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Dr Oh Ei Sun said the parliamentary debates this year leaned towards the political row following the outturn of Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) establishment and its position as the ruling coalition.

“The sittings this year had been overshadowed by incessant political skirmishing at a time when the country is facing grave pandemic sufferings and prolonged socio-economic downturn, which demand competent leadership that is, unfortunately, sorely lacking,” he told The Malaysian Reserve recently.

Since the lower house convened for the first meeting in May, the motion to question Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s premiership was raised, including his leadership of the ruling coalition which has been labelled as a “backdoor government”.

At present, there are 25 no-confidence motions and two confidence motions submitted against Muhyiddin in the latest Dewan Rakyat sitting, with the majority of the motions coming from Parti Amanah Negara, Parti Warisan Sabah and Parti Pejuang Tanah Air.

University of Tasmania’s Asian Studies Prof James Chin believed that the no-confidence vote against Muhyiddin was an acid test of his premiership and it could never entirely be proven until the votes are allowed to pass through the lower house.

“The no-confidence motion is something that people will try to introduce, but will not see the light of day, because how it works with the Malaysian Parliament is that the speaker will decide which bills should be debated and a no-confidence vote is what they call private member’s bills.

“The speaker could just put it as the last item and generally in every parliamentary sitting in Malaysia, the last item will never be discussed.

“So, regardless of how many people try to push it through, it will never see the light of day if the speaker does not entertain the request. Should the vote of confidence go ahead, we can test whether Muhyiddin has the support or not,” he said.

Chin added that the parliamentary debate next year will resume in a more audacious tone as the schedule and attendance of sittings are expected to normalise, giving more time for both sides to argue on the country’s policies.

“The debate will be more heated when the Parliament convenes in March as things will be back to normal, but the problem is that, the Opposition is unlikely to be able to put together an effective strategy against the government for a simple reason: The Opposition is not clear who their leader is.

“PN is still in control of the number of MPs. If there is a limited number of MPs allowed in the sitting, it will be hard for the Opposition to sustain the attack on the government,” he said.

Read our previous report here

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