Azalina: Speaker duty-bound to guide MPs on private members’ bills

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The speaker of the Dewan Rakyat has a duty of care to guide MPs putting forth private members bills instead of rejecting them on a technicality, Azalina Othman Said said yesterday.

The former deputy speaker said as government business takes priority when parliament sits, private members’ bills never see the light of day.

“Private members’ bills are rejected due to misreading, (but) the speaker has a duty of care to the MPs to guide them. The parliamentary draftsman must be stationed in Parliament, not the ministry,” she said at an online forum organised by Asli entitled MOU – A Pathway To Transformation and Stability?.

Azalina said that with such a system in place, MPs are not able to do their jobs effectively.

“If government wants to reject my view as technicality, it should (be included) in the order paper even though it might not be carried. At least they are showing that an anti-hopping law is on the table and they are committed,” she said, in reference to her motion to introduce a recall election.

On September 3, the Pengerang MP submitted a notice of motion to the Dewan Rakyat to table a recall election in the current Parliament sitting.

Subsequently, the government and Pakatan Harapan (PH) signed a historic memorandum of understanding (MOU) on September 13 for political stability and transformation.

Under the agreed deal, the government has promised to deliver three major reforms by the middle of next year, before the next or fifth session of Parliament.

They are the anti-party hopping law, the implementation of Undi 18 and automatic voter registration, and the imposition of a 10-year term limit on the prime minister’s tenure.

Various parliamentary reforms are also in the agreement, like the Parliamentary Services bills, which seek to restore Parliament’s autonomy in its finances and administration.

To date, however, neither the recall bill nor the anti-hopping bill have been included in the current sitting’s agenda.

“They must put it (the motion) on the table within this or the next session. Otherwise, the rakyat will scold us and say we are lying.”

Meanwhile, law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said this is why it was important to bring back the Parliamentary Services Act 1963, which will allow Parliament to conduct its own administration, staffing, and financing.

“We don’t have a mechanism to bring in a private member’s bill. In the standing order, all private member bills don’t have a place in Parliament and it usually never sees the light of the day.

“We need to amend the antiquated standing order to empower MPs. Otherwise, Parliament will be tied up, it cannot overrule itself,” he said.

Most recently, several lawmakers brought a motion to remove Dewan Rakyat speaker Azhar Azizan Harun, but they were rejected on grounds of a technicality.

Deputy Dewan Rakyat speaker Mohd Rashid Hasnon rejected the motions on saying they did not comply with the standing orders of the house. – TMI