Speaker Explains 10-Minute Break of Dewan Rakyat Sitting

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Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun today explained the confusion that occurred yesterday when he called for a 10-minute recess before the division vote for the Supply (Reallocation of Appropriated Expenditure) Bill 2020.

Azhar stressed that on August 11, he had announced a 10-minute break to allow members of Parliaments (MPs) to participate in the voting process in a different building, after taking into account the standard operating procedure (SOP) which is currently being enforced due to Covid-19 pandemic as well as the distance between the parliament and the administrative blocks.

“I did not get any negative feedback (on August 11) but unfortunately when I announced it (yesterday) my voice was drowned by the passionate lawmakers eagerly participating in the division vote.

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“Therefore, I hope there will be no more confusion such as this,” he said after a question-and-answer session at the Dewan Rakyat sitting today.

Yesterday, Azhar, who chaired the sitting, ordered the division vote for the Supply Bill (Reallocation of Appropriated Expenditure) Bill 2020 to be held in accordance with Meeting Rule 46 (4) of the Dewan Rakyat and the bell rang for two minutes.

Before the voting process took place, Azhar adjourned the Dewan Rakyat sitting for 10 minutes recess and left the hall, inviting arguments among MPs in the Opposition bloc who questioned his actions.

The speaker reiterated today that the 10-minute break after the bell was rung for two minutes, was to enable MPs to make their way from the MPs office block to the Dewan Rakyat. The two buildings are about a minute’s walk apart.

However, the 10-minute break also takes into account Covid-19 physical distancing measures, such as elevators being limited to just five people at a time, instead of the regular capacity of 15.

When the 10-minute break took place, several MPs protested, asking if this was a purposeful delay because there were not enough government MPs in the Dewan Rakyat.

The bill passed 111 against 106.