Dewan Rakyat to Sit from 10am-2pm Starting Mon, 80 MPs at a Time Starting Tomorrow

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The Dewan Rakyat has decided to make some adjustments in its Order of Business for the Third Meeting of the Third Session of the 14th Parliament to ensure smooth running of the Dewan Rakyat sitting amid Covid-19.

Among the adjustments is that the daily sitting time will only be from 10 am to 2 pm with the number of Members of Parliament (MPs) allowed in the hall is limited to only 80 at any one time.

Bernama

“Forty-one of the MPs will be from the government side with the remaining 39 from the opposition,” said Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun in a statement today.

The MPs will be determined by the different political parties, while the Dewan Rakyat secretary will issue special passes for them to join the sessions.

The proposal to limit the number of MPs was among nine forwarded by the party whips after a meeting yesterday.

Among those who attended the meeting were senior ministers Mohamed Azmin Ali (Gombak-PN), Ismail Sabri (Bera-BN) and Fadillah Yusof (Petra Jaya-GPS), Takiyuddin Hassan (Kota Baru-PN), Shahidan Kassim (Arau-BN), Nik Muhammad Zawawi (Pasir Puteh-PN), Anthony Loke (Seremban-PH), Johari Abdul (Sg Petani-PH), Hasanuddin Mohd Yunus (Hulu Langat-PH) and Rozman Isli (Labuan-Warisan).

The Dewan Rakyat also passed several motions to suspend the standing orders to allow the changes to the meeting regulations.

“The changes are being made in view of the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the country,” said Azhar.

The nine changes are:

  1. Starting November 9 until December 15:

a. Dewan Rakyat sessions will be from 10am until 2pm;

b. Question-and-answer (Q&A) sessions with the government for Monday and Wednesday will be an hour from 10am-11am. Q&A sessions for Tuesday and Thursday will be for 55 minutes from 10.05am-11am. Only one supplementary question is allowed;

c. Ministers’ Q&A sessions on Tuesday and Thursday will be for five minutes, starting at 10am. MPs are to read out the question and the minister will reply with a written answer that will be given on the same day and uploaded to the Parliament website as soon as possible.

2. Budget 2021 policy debate will be for eight days from November 9-19.

3. Ministers’ winding-up session for the policy stage will be from November 23-25.

4. Budget 2021 committee stage debate will be for 11 days from November 26-Dec 15.

5. Dewan Rakyat sitting can be extended by two days until December 17.

6. Under the new rules, Dewan Rakyat will be reduced to 66 hours compared with the original 89 hours and 30 minutes.

7. Sessions during this sitting will be limited to 80 MPs – 41 from government and 39 from opposition. Each political party will decide which MPs are allowed to attend the session and they will be given a special pass by the government.

Takiyuddin will coordinate for the government side while Johari Abdul (Sg Petani-PH) will coordinate for the opposition MPs.

  1. MPs, who are given the special passes, can log in their attendance with the laptops while others will be asked to sign in at Gate 3 of the Parliament main block.

9. All MPs will be allowed to attend any division vote. During a division vote, the bell will be rung for two minutes before Parliament is adjourned for 10 minutes for voting.

Azhar clarified that all the adjustment were temporary measures taken to balance the roles of MPs as lawmakers and the importance of taking care of everyone’s health following the spread of Covid 19.

Before the motions were adopted, Teo Nie Ching (PH-Kulai) expressed unhappiness over the limited time given to ministers to answer the MPs’ questions.

Previously, she said, ministers were given 45 to 60 minutes, “but if they are only given 15 minutes, there will not be enough time to answer all our questions”.

Law Minister Takiyuddin replied that if there was insufficient time, the ministers would give their replies in writing.

Shahidan also took the opportunity to remind the speaker to ensure that each MP is given 15 minutes during the debates and not have it reduced to just five minutes.

Fuziah Salleh (Kuatan-PH) also asked if the government is considering amending the rules to allow for online Parliament sessions instead, as the new rules cut the time given for MPs to raise questions and debate.

“This will be considered by the standing orders committee,” said Takiyuddin.

Several members again called for Parliament to meet virtually.

Takiyuddin said virtual parliamentary sessions were not covered by the Standing Order but the situation would be reviewed.