Fiasco of a sitting.
Opposition lawmakers were up in arms after Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was absent from responding to questions about the National Recovery Plan that he tabled in Parliament this morning.
The winding-up was instead handled by Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz on behalf of the prime minister.
However, this did not go down well with the Opposition bench.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was livid and demanded that Dewan Rakyat speaker Azhar Azizan Harun does not allow this to happen.
“Never before in history – since Independence, since the establishment of Parliament – where questions to the prime minister and emergency are answered by the finance minister.
“We hold you responsible. The speaker must have courage. You are the speaker of the House.
“It is your duty as the speaker to get the prime minister to respond to us. It should, at the very least be, the deputy prime minister,” Anwar said.
Muhyiddin was present in Parliament on Monday (July 26) morning to give a speech on the NRP but failed to appear in the evening to answer the questions raised by MPs during the debates.
Tengku Zafrul stood up to answer the questions on Muhyiddin’s behalf, but lawmakers from the Opposition aisle wasted no time before interjecting.
RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong), Gobind Singh Deo (PH-Puchong) and Datuk Seri Azis Jamman (Warisan-Sepanggar) were also among those who compelled Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun to make a ruling for Muhyiddin to attend Parliament and answer.
Steven Sim (PH-Bukit Mertajam) asked if Muhyiddin was still interested in becoming the Prime Minister.
“We want to ask questions about policies and the law, and the Finance Minister can’t answer these.
“If the Prime Minister is not here, then why can’t the Deputy Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob) answer?” questioned Rayer, referring to Ismail Sabri (PN-Bera) who was seated in the hall.
Ismail Sabri replied that Muhyiddin had presented the NRP and so questions on the state of Emergency by the Opposition MPs were “out of topic”.
“The Finance Minister is the coordinating minister for the National Recovery Plan. That is why he is answering the questions,” said Ismail Sabri, to which the Opposition MPs retorted by saying that Tengku Zafrul is already scheduled to take the floor on Thursday (July 26).
However, Azhar directed Tengku Zafrul to continue.
To which, Gobind asked: “Why does the prime minister give his statement here but have someone else reply?
“How can Tengku Zafrul respond to questions about law when he is the finance minister,” said Gobind.
But neither Azhar nor Perikatan Nasional administration thought it was out of place.