In the shadow of polls fever


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 16 Nov 2003

BY IZATUN SHARI

FOR at least four years, MPs from both political divides have become accustomed to one another. 

It is strange that some of them may not be returning to parliament for its next meeting if they are not re-elected during the coming general election, which many anticipate will take place between now and March. 

As such, some MPs known to be provocateurs in the House took the opportunity at the end of this meeting to goad their opposition counterparts about their prospects in the general election. 

It was just a two-day sitting after the House decided to extend the session to debate a few more Bills, but there were a number of interesting incidents. 

At times, Datuk Mohamad Aziz (BN – Sri Gading) hinted to Mohd Apandi Mohamad (PAS – Jeli) that he would not be coming back to Parliament after the election. 

At other times, Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (BN – Kinabatangan) made similar remarks to Teresa Kok (DAP – Seputeh). 

The opposition MPs chose to ignore the annoying remarks. 

On Tuesday, a PAS MP demanded immediate replies from the Finance Ministry to his queries, expressing his uncertainty of returning to parliament as the reason behind the urgency. 

The minister replied that he would give written answers, adding that the PAS MP should be more confident of winning in the election. 

Even Speaker Tun Dr Mohamed Zahir Ismail took the chance to apologise to MPs for any mistakes he and his deputies might have committed throughout the session, and wished them well in case they do not see one another during the next meeting. 

“I cannot be sure that we will see each other again if we face the general election. Some of you will be back and maybe some of you will not,” he said before adjourning the meeting. 

Dr Mohamed Zahir, who reminded MPs about their responsibility to uphold democracy during the election campaign, also expressed satisfaction with the MPs who had taken part in the debate, saying they had done their research and homework. 

“I'm very happy with the improvement. And I urge you to place the country's interest above self-interest,” he said. 

On Monday, the House was filled with Barisan MPs who came to parliament to vote against a motion moved by Kok to postpone the tabling of the Penal Code Bill.  

A majority of the MPs voted against it, and another motion to oppose the tabling of the Bill for second and third reading before it is passed. 

Many backbenchers were annoyed by the opposition MPs saying they had wasted much time. 

After meeting for 42 days, MPs had debated on 18 Bills that were passed by the House. Another 13 were deferred to the next meeting. 

The session must have been significant for the MPs as they had witnessed the smooth transition of the country's leadership from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. 

It was also the time for them to pay tribute to Dr Mahathir, who made his final appearance in parliament as Prime Minister to table the Mid-Term Review of the Eighth Malaysia Plan. 

MPs also had the opportunity to welcome Abdullah as he made his maiden speech in his capacity as Prime Minister in parliament. 

They also took the chance to take photographs with the Speaker and one another at the lobby before going home on Tuesday. 

The next parliament meeting, scheduled for March, is expected to have new faces following the re-delineation of the electoral boundary. 

Renovation works in the House has already begun to add 25 new seats, which will increase the number of MPs to 218. 

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