Dewan Rakyat: Ejection order retracted following shouting match over Sulu Sultanate claim (Updated)

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Update: Isnairaissah later confirmed that she was ejected from the Parliament and suspended for two days. She said she checked her status with the Dewan Rakyat secretary who informed her that she had indeed been suspended.

A shouting match ensued in the Parliament today, after the Dewan Rakyat Speaker refused to allow a motion to discuss the claims of the Sulu Sultanate.

The motion was submitted by Kota Belud member of parliament Isnaraissah Munirah Majlis, who stood up before the second reading of the National Forestry (Amendment) Bill 2022, saying that it had been rejected by the Speaker for the third time.

“I have submitted this motion thrice before, but it was rejected. I’m quite puzzled… What should be done to enable this to be discussed.

“This is a question of the country’s sovereignty. Is it because (the claims) are on Sabah and not other states, hence you don’t care about it?

“Why was the stay of execution only submitted on July 12, when the final arbitration was awarded on Feb 28?”

She was referring to the arbitration ruling in favour of the Sulu Sultanate’s heirs, dated Feb 28. This resulted in two of Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s (Petronas) assets worth US$2 billion reportedly being seized.

Explaining the grounds for rejecting the motions, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun said that he had already allowed the matter to be debated but could not recall at which Dewan Rakyat session.

“The issue was already explained by the Economic Minister,” Azhar said.

At that point Kota Belud interjected to state that the matter should still be debated given what had transpired in Luxembourg, but Azhar scoffed and told Isnaraissah to “be quiet when I talk.”

“So, the minister had already explained lengthily so everyone knows what is going on with regards to the disposal of these assets. Then on the matter of it being subjudicial, the law clearly states that it is (subjudicial) because there are one or two ongoing proceedings still,” he said.

“The Standing Orders are very clear about this so I have to enforce it,” the Speaker added.

Several MPs, however, had argued earlier that the laws governing subjudice cannot be applicable.

“This is a matter that involves the court in Madrid, not here so it cannot be subjudicial,’’ said Sivarasa Rasiah, Subang PKR Member of Parliament.

Azhar ignored the arguments and instead instructed Energy and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan to proceed with the second reading of the National Forestry (Amendment) Bill 2022.

Ramkarpal Singh (Bukit Gelugor-PH) chided Azhar, telling him that he was “in no position to reject this motion” due to a conflict of interest as his brother Tan Sri Idrus Harun is the Attorney-General.

Azhar denied that there was a conflict of interest.

Bernama

“I do not talk to him about work. And if there is anything in here being discussed here that involves him, I will always exclude myself.”

Isnaraissah, however, was adamant that the issue be discussed, stressing that it was a matter of the country’s sovereignty.

As the MPs continued to talk over Takiyuddin, an audibly frustrated Azhar shouted at them, “Tolonglah! Duduk! (Please, sit down)”

This failed to quell the dissenting MPs who continued to protest his decision.

Azhar appeared to lose his cool as Isnaraissah kept interrupting him, and left the chair to allow Deputy Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon to take over the proceedings.

Rashid said the issue had already been decided and warned the Warisan MP to sit down.

He then told Energy and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan to continue tabling the amendments, but Isnaraissah pressed on.

“Which is more important? Sabah or the forests?” she questioned.

Opposition MPs then heckled Takiyuddin and the deputy speaker in a bid to get a ruling.

Rashid, pressured, responded by saying Isnaraissah could still submit an appeal but the Kota Belud MP refused.

“What guarantee do we have that you won’t reject it again? I want a ruling now. Decide a date so we can debate this,” she shouted.

The shouting continued for at least 10 minutes.

Rashid then ordered for her to be ejected from the Parliament for two days, but she refused to budge, with several other MPs surrounding her, preventing the Sergeant-at-Arms (bentara) from escorting her out.

Datuk Mohd Azis Jamman (Warisan-Sepanggar) then shouted: “Take (the ruling) back! I hope Sabahans see this. You only want Sabah’s oil.”

Sepang MP Mohamed Hanipa Maidin then interjected and said the deputy speaker was a “disgrace to Parliament”.

Rashid then told Isnaraissah that she could make an appeal to the speaker under Standing Order 43 for her motion to be debated. She, however, said that it was no use submitting the same motion over and over if the speaker would only reject it. “What are you waiting for, for Sabah to be seized? Give me a date when this will be debated and I will keep quiet” she said, while other MPs surrounding her continued to urge Rashid to take back the ruling to eject her.

He later retracted his order. Later at a press conference, Isnaraissah said she would be submitting her motion for the fourth time today.

“I submitted the same motion twice in March to debate about the final arbitration award in the Spanish court, but it was rejected. I want the government to be firm on this and fight this claim.”

She said that the issue had touched a raw nerve with leaders from Sabah who still have many questions to raise on the claims made by the alleged heirs of the Sulu sultanate.