MPs raise crucial issues during Royal Address

It includes Azalina’s acknowledgment of the govt’s pledge with PH under its political agreement to table the Anti-party Hopping Bill

pic by BERNAMA

THE first week of Dewan Rakyat which began last Tuesday saw several issues raised during the debates on the Royal Address.

The King kicked off the current sitting on Monday by urging MPs to put aside political agenda and focus on the nation’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

His Majesty told the current administration to double its efforts in fighting the pandemic and was confident that the new government would be able to prove its achievement within the first 100 days in office.

On Tuesday, the august house saw an uproar after opposition MPs proposed a motion to replace speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun.

It resulted in a two-day suspension of Pakatan Harapan (PH)-Jelutong MP RSN Rayer after he refused to retract the word “shameful”, which he uttered against Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon who rejected the motion. His suspension was then cut to one day.

The issue came to light after the opposition bloc asked why the motion was not included in the order paper.

MPs also voted to postpone the election of a new deputy speaker for the Dewan Rakyat to amend the Federal Constitution to increase the number of deputy speakers from two to three.

Among the issues raised during the debates on the Royal Address include Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said’s acknowledgment of the government’s pledge with PH under its political agreement to table the Anti-party Hopping Bill in Parliament.

She urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Law Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar to fast track the bill and include the Recall Election Bill which she previously proposed as a Private Member’s Bill.

Azalina said it is crucial for the government to approve the bill as there needs to be a mechanism to decide whether the MPs should be replaced if they decide to switch parties after being elected as a representative.

“We need to know that those who choose to party-hop may do so because they were sacked (from the party) or a new coalition is formed.

“We should allow a referendum to allow the people to decide if those who party-hop should be sacked and thus, a by-election must be held or they can remain as an elected representative,” she said.

Azalina also suggested the separation of powers between the Attorney-General (AG) and public prosecutor.

She said the law minister can be the AG which would make it easier for him or her to attend the Dewan Rakyat and answer any questions on law.

“The public prosecutor cannot be appointed by the PM and must be appointed the same way we appoint a judge.

“I am proposing this because we need to acknowledge that the power to prosecute is a big responsibility and we do not want the AG to be viewed as someone who is pressured by politics,” she added.

DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng said the memorandum of understanding signed between the government and PH will be cancelled if the government fails to materialise the terms set out in the agreement.

The Bagan MP said both parties must focus on their battle against Covid-19 and its efforts to rejuvenate the economy.

“If the terms are not met, the agreement will be automatically cancelled. We should focus on fighting the pandemic and saving the economy,” he said in his debate.

Meanwhile, during the minister’s question time, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar (picture) stated that Malaysia needs more specialists in the healthcare system due to the current shortage.

There are slightly more than 13,000 specialists in public healthcare and private practice.

“So this leads to the waiting time for patients to see specialists now. We need 28,000 specialists by 2030.

“That is why we need to optimise available resources and also the commitment from the Finance Ministry for us to train these doctors into specialists,” he said.

Debates on the Royal Address will resume next Monday until Tuesday. It is then followed by replies from ministers on Wednesday and Thursday.

The 12th Malaysia Plan will be presented on Sept 27, 2021, followed by debates for four days.

The current Dewan Rakyat sitting will end on Oct 12, 2021.