Nod for creation of new seats


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 09 Apr 2003

THE Dewan Rakyat approved a motion to create 25 new parliamentary and 63 state seats despite fiery protests from the Opposition, which finally staged a walkout to boycott the bloc voting. 

Before the motion was put to the vote, the opposition MPs walked out at 5.20pm, followed by boos and table thumping from their Barisan counterparts. 

Just prior to the actual walkout, Prime Minister’s Department parliamentary secretary Datuk Noh Omar and several backbenchers had stood up and shouted at the opposition, challenging them to get out. 

Speaker Tun Dr Mohamed Zahir Ismail, who had the unenviable task of persuading the PAS and DAP MPs to remain calm during the proceedings, told Noh “to be quiet.” 

“Let them go out. They want to go,” he said and proceeded with the vote count. 

A total of 144 Barisan MPs voted for the motion unanimously. 

Earlier, winding up the debate on the motion, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Rais Yatim had a difficult time refuting the opposition MPs’ claims that the Election Commission had not adhered to criteria forming the basis of a redelineation exercise. 

Datuk Dr Hassan Mohd Ali (PAS – Parit Buntar), Husam Musa (PAS – Kubang Kerian), Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi (PAS – Kuala Terengganu), Abdul Fatah Harun (PAS – Rantau Panjang) and Kerk Kim Hock (DAP –Kota Melaka) were among those who voiced their protests, accusing the Commission of being influenced by Barisan and not being impartial. 

Dr Rais challenged the opposition MPs to provide evidence to back their allegations. 

Noting that 70% of the objections to the Commission's report on the delineation came from Umno leaders, he said: “Umno leaders themselves did not get preferential treatment.”  

This, he said, showed that the Commission was not biased towards the Barisan. 

At one point, when Dr Rais suggested that the opposition was repeating its political innuendos, several MPs stood up, thumped their tables and shouted their protests, resulting in a warning from the Chair that he would adjourn proceedings if they did not remain calm. 

Replying to Dr Hassan, who had accused the Prime Minister of manipulating the Commission's report, Dr Rais said he should present a petition to the Commission before he was charged with making baseless allegations. 

When several PAS and DAP MPs insisted he had failed to answer their questions, Dr Rais said: “I have elaborated. It’s just that you are not satisfied.” 

Outside the Dewan, Acting Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the opposition MPs had walked out as they wanted to capitalise on issues for political gains in the hope of getting “outside support.” 

 

He criticised them for opting to walk out, saying: “They did not exercise their right to vote, as if the end result would have been different had they voted.” 

 

On claims that the motion was presented hastily, Abdullah said if he had “kept” it until June, the same allegations would still have cropped up. 

 

Dr Hassan and Kerk, when met outside, said the opposition walked out because Dr Rais’ replies were evasive “and we want to strongly register our protest.” 

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