Opposition uproar as Deputy Speaker rejects motion to debate surge in food prices

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Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon sparked protest today after he rejected a motion for members of the House to discuss the recent surge in food prices, prompting uproar from the Opposition bench.

Mohd Rashid allowed the matter to be debated in the Special Chamber sitting this evening instead.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim led the protest, arguing that the chamber would have limited effectiveness to provide solutions to an urgent matter since it only allows for one minister to address questions.

“In a case like this, by right it should be debated in the House and not the Special Chamber because it would allow for all members to debate it,” he said.

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“Honorable Deputy Speaker, you have to understand that this is an issue that involves not only one ministry. If it is to be pushed in the chamber it would only be Kapit that would answer. This is an issue that involves agriculture, finance which is why debating it in the chamber will have limited impact,” Anwar added.

Kapit MP Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi is the current minister of domestic trade and consumer affairs.

Anwar said he would agree to debate the issue in the chamber only if the Speaker can guarantee that all the relevant ministers will be present to face questions.

Prices of basic foods such as vegetables and chicken have risen sharply in the last few weeks, causing widespread public concern. Opposition MPs have sought to raise the matter in the current Dewan Rakyat sitting, and are calling for immediate intervention.

Governing politicians have been accused of inaction over public statements that seemingly blamed the inflation on factors like climate and supply chain disruptions, and suggesting these were beyond government control.

Anwar, who is MP for Port Dickson, said debating the matter in the House would give the Opposition an avenue to give input and compel the government to act immediately. He had called for a Cabinet-level committee to be set up to come up with policy solutions instantly.

There have been suggestions that the government alleviate the pressure by subsidising production costs.

“I appeal (for the Deputy Speaker) to reconsider his decision considering the situation whereby the people require the government to act with urgency but cannot be solved by just one ministry,” he said.

“By right, the prime minister should set up a Cabinet committee that emphasises on solving this predicament instantly. When I say instant, I mean today or tomorrow latest,” the Port Dickson MP added.

Several other Opposition MPs voiced their protest against the Deputy Speaker’s decision shortly after.

Mohd Rashid responded briefly by saying his ruling was final. – MMO