Dr M to Sit with Opposition in Parliament

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Bersatu chairman and former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad will sit with the opposition in the one-day Parliament sitting tomorrow, sources told The Malaysian Insight.

At 94, the world and country’s oldest parliamentarian will make history by being an MP from a ruling party and yet sit on the opposition bench.

He will join Pakatan Harapan and Parti Warisan Sabah lawmakers following his rejection of the Perikatan Nasional government which ousted PH from federal power in late February.

However, talk is rife that he will be sacked from the party for opposing Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin, who is now prime minister.

Sources said Dr Mahathir will sit on the first row of section D, directly facing Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Yusof.

Beside Dr Mahathir is Warisan president and Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal (Semporna).

Shafie is followed by opposition MPs in sections E, F and G.

In section A, which is to the speaker’s right, the government bench will be led by Muhyiddin (Bersatu-Pagoh).

Beside Muhyiddin is former PKR deputy president, who is now de facto deputy prime minister, Mohamed Azmin Ali (Gombak) followed by the other senior ministers – Ismail Sabri Yaakob (BN-Bera), Fadillah Yusof (GPS-Petrajaya) and Senator Dr Radzi Jidin (Bersatu).

Next to Radzi is Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein (BN-Sembrong) and former deputy speaker Ismail Mohamed Said (BN-Kuala Krau).

Each of the 222 MPs are placed a seat apart to observe social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This arrangement will take up the seating normally reserved for ministry officers, aides and parliamentary staff behind the MPs’ usual seats.

On the opposition side, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim (PH-Port Dickson) will occupy the opposition leader’s seat in section G, followed by followed by  Mohamad Sabu (PH-Kota Raja), Lim Guan Eng (PH-Bagan), Dr Mahathir (Bersatu-Langkawi) followed by Shafie Apdal (Warisan-Semporna).

Under the Westminster system, government MPs sit on the right of the Speaker’s chair with ministers on the front bench (first row).

Non-government MPs – opposition, independents and minor party members – sit on the left of the Speaker’s chair with senior party leaders or shadow cabinet members occupying the first row.

The sitting tomorrow is the first one for the year and since February’s political turmoil that saw the change in government.

The sitting was delayed from March 9 and will only hear the royal address before adjourning till July.

Tomorrow’s sitting was to have heard government matters on spending to mitigate the impact of Covid-19, but that was removed from the agenda last week, leading to more outcry from the opposition that Muhyiddin was trying to avoid any possibility of a confidence vote.

Dr Mahathir has submitted a motion of no confidence against Muhyiddin, which the speaker has accepted to be tabled.

However, the prime minster’s office changed the agenda for tomorrow’s sitting, which disallowed motions, oral questions, or the usual ministers’ question time. – TMI