Protest or Not, No Stopping Redelineation Report Debate

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The Dewan Rakyat descended into chaos with DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang suspended for six months.

Parliament was set to be a battleground today, with the government preparing to table, debate and pass the Election Commission’s electoral constituency redelineation report and electoral reform group Bersih protesting the EC report, which it claims is rife with gerrymandering and malapportionment to give BN an advantage in GE14.

Bersih supporters started gathering on the road leading from Jalan Parlimen to Tugu Negara from 7am, with many wearing Bersih’s signature yellow T-shirts.

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Addressing the crowd, former Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan said the redelineation proposal to be tabled today and the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 tabled yesterday must both be opposed.

“We cannot allow that. The rakyat are the only ones who can say something. Why are they rushing with that (redelineation) report?

Wong Kai Hui/Malaysiakini

“Today, we must make our voices heard. This is about our rights, the people’s rights. The right to vote! With this report, they are challenging democracy in this country,” Ambiga said.

However, Ambiga stressed that the opposition must be peaceful, as that is what the Bersih movement is about.

Recently resigned Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah described the EC as a “forger”.

She said 80,000 people had opposed the EC’s first redelineation proposal, and the EC pretended to listen by backtracking on some of its proposals in the second redelineation proposal. Thus, the second round of objections was not as strong.

“But we now know from the embargoed documents that they have cheated us and went back to the first proposal,” Maria said.

She added that when the EC knew a court case had been filed on March 20, it quickly sent a letter to the objectors explaining why their objections had been rejected.

“Thus the EC is a forger, and we can no longer accept this because we love this country. We come out in large numbers today because we want peace, justice, and democracy,” Maria said.

Amanah president Mohamad Sabu told the gathering that with the redelineation, BN would only need about 40 percent of the popular vote to retain power.

Pakatan Harapan Chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad urged the rakyat not to be afraid to vote for the opposition to “save Malaysia from kleptocracy”.

“Malaysia has become a country of kleptocracy because of Najib. He wants to change all the laws to ensure they win.

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

“We have to be brave to oppose it. Najib won’t know whom you vote for. Don’t be afraid. Please don’t vote the moon (PAS) or the Libra (BN), but vote for Harapan,” Mahathir said.

He then listed what he claimed were Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s wrongdoings.

Also present were Bersatu deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar.

By about 11am, protestors made their way past police barricades and marched towards Parliament.

At 11.30am, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said tabled a motion for the House proceedings to continue until the completion of the redelineation report debate.

However, before Najib could table the motion to debate the motion, Klang MP Charles Santiago interrupted, citing Standing Orders.

He demanded a ruling on whether he could read out a motion he submitted two days ago to withdraw the redelineation report.

Sepang MP Hanipa Maidin then sought to review why a question he had submitted was rejected, as he said the rejection was improper.

Speaker Pandikar Aman Mulia, however, said he had already made his decision.

After further interjections, Pandikar warned that if there were any further interruptions he would not hesitate to eject MPs.

“I am not required to give an explanation. Secretary, proceed, anyone who interrupts I will use my power (to eject),” the Speaker said.

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Thereafter, Lim Kit Siang questioned the Speaker on the justifications to impose an embargo on the redelineation report

Pandikar did not respond to this and said he would use his powers under Standing Order 44 (2).

He ordered for Kit Siang to be evicted, causing an uproar.

However, the DAP veteran refused to budge.

He sat down and merely smiled, saying he only wanted clarification on his question.

“I feel ashamed to be in this honourable House but I will still remain here, despite being ashamed,” Kit Siang added.

A commotion ensued and words were exchanged between lawmakers from both sides of the divide.

Kit Siang shouted at Najib, calling him a “pencuri” (thief), “penyamun” (robber).

BN MPs jumped to the prime minister’s defence, with Baling MP Azeez Abdul Rahim calling Lim a communist.

Arguments continued in the House and Pandikar repeatedly told lawmakers to sit down or he would exercise his powers under Standing Order 44(3), following which he called for a minister to move a motion to suspend Lim.

This created further commotion when several lawmakers cried foul, saying it was undemocratic.

Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah said the Speaker should be fair and also take action against Azeez for calling Kit Siang a communist.

Azeez, in retort, said Kit Siang started it, by calling BN thieves.

Azalina then moved a motion to suspend Lim, while Opposition MPs argued that the matter should be put to a debate.

Azalina moved a motion to suspend Kit Siang. The motion was supported by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Razali Ibrahim.

Pandikar immediately called for a vote.

Seremban MP Anthony Loke, however, said Kit Siang should be given the opportunity to defend himself.

Batu MP Tian Chua called Parliament a “kangaroo court”.

When Lim Guan Eng stood to cite a point of order, BN MPs shot back, calling DAP a “father and son party”.

Guan Eng ignored the heckling and said that there should be a debate on the motion to suspend Kit Siang.

“This is still a democracy, not an autocracy,” Guan Eng said.

Pandikar then called for a temporary adjournment of the proceedings.

Pandikar called for a brief recess and said the motion to suspend Kit Siang would then continue.

“I am temporarily adjourning the Dewan but when I come back, the instructions to suspend YB Gelang Patah (Kit Siang) and for him to be ejected out of the Dewan will be continued.

“If he refuses, I will instruct the police to escort him and others who refuse to be sent out, and proceedings will continue,” said Pandikar.

The House went into recess at noon.

Outside Parliament, police allowed eight representatives from the protestors to hand over their letter to the Speaker’s representative.

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

Following this, rally leaders called for the crowd to disperse.

Meanwhile, Kit Siang was given a six-month suspension from Parliament.