Opposition MPs Unhappy with Speaker’s Rigid ‘Time-Keeper’ Rules

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Several lawmakers have expressed their dissatisfaction for not being able to interject and seek clarification from ministers during the ministerial wrap up of Budget 2021.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had urged Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun to be a little flexible in allowing MPs to raise their queries as ministers presented their replies in the House on points raised during debates.

“Please remember that the House is a place to debate, not to just listen to the explanation from ministers, but if the Speaker is so adamant and not even allow an additional few minutes to give room for the minister to speak and clarify, then this is not right.

“I object to the Speaker’s attitude in stopping MPs from bringing up important and controversial issues.

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“Please give ministers the chance to clarify and allow the MPs to interject and seek clarification,” said Anwar.

To this, Azhar, who was chairing the proceedings, said that the time for MPs to debate was over and it was only right to give the ministers the opportunity to reply to the points raised by lawmakers.

“I understand what you are saying, YB Port Dickson (Anwar), but you need to understand that the debates are over, ministers need to be given time. If the minister allows the MP to interject, then it can be done, if not, nothing can be done.

“Ministers have listened to the debates by the MPs,” said Azhar.

However, Anwar begged to differ and said that ministers were willing to allow MPs to interject, but it was the Speaker who wanted to keep to time.

“Speaker, you say that you understand but even when the ministers are allowing MPs to ask, you are not allowing them and this is not right,” said a visibly upset Anwar.

He told the Speaker this at the end of Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin’s winding-up speech, which was brought to an abrupt end by the Speaker.

“The minister was already getting ready to answer, but you keep saying stop, stop, stop,” Anwar said.

Azhar, however, maintained his stand that the debate session was over and that is how the Parliament sitting is conducted.

Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad (PH-Kuala Selangor) had also interjected and said not all MPs were given the opportunity to debate.

“The MPs can only seek clarification when the ministers reply, not everyone had the chance to debate, you need to consider that as well, Speaker,” said Dr Dzulkefly.

Each ministry is allocated 20 minutes to reply in order to adhere to the Covid-19 preventive SOP, which had limited the time of the proceedings till 2pm.

However, earlier in the day, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan had tabled a motion to extend the sitting for Wednesday (Nov 25) till 3pm.

A total of 80 lawmakers had taken part in Budget 2021 debates at the policy stage with 27 ministries to reply.

As of now, there are nine more ministries left to wind up their replies by Thursday (Nov 26).