The season for pay cut motions

THE sitting was dominated by a series of motions to reduce the salary of ministers.

Five ministers – Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor (Works), Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha (Transport), Datuk Seri Peter Chin (Energy, Green Technology and Water), Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim (Information, Communication and Culture) and Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen (Tourism) survived the motions moved by Opposition MPs.

The motion under Clause 66 (9) of the Standing Orders provides for MPs to move a motion to cut the salary of ministers before the debate commences on a specific ministry at committee stage.

With one minister after another facing the prospect of a pay cut, Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said in jest: “I am also waiting to be cut.”

Rais, in his reply on the motion to reduce his salary by RM10 on Tuesday, said: “The pay cut is actually a tactic of the Opposition. I have been an MP since 1974.

“This is the season for pay cut. My colleague seated next to me, the Health Minister, was also not spared.”

Rais handled the motion with patience and humour, despite facing Jeff Ooi’s (DAP-Jelutong) fiery questions.

Rais’ sense of humour certainly lightened things up.

“If you succeed (in getting the motion passed), I will give Pokok Sena (Datuk Mahfuz Omar, who moved the motion against him) RM5.”

In contrast, Dr Ng was fierce, as described by Dr Wee in his tweet.

She waved her clenched fist up and down while replying.

One day before the motion against her, Dr Ng made a ministerial statement on actual expenses incurred overseas to promote tourism.

No one could interject to “cross-examine” her as provisions in the Standing Orders enabled her to speak without interference.

When she replied on the pay cut motion against her the next day, various Opposition MPs stood up to seek clarification but she did not give way.

“You do not know my character ... this is my floor,’’ Dr Ng told Tian Chua (PKR-Batu), who tried to interject many times, to the extent of telling her not to be furious.

At one point, the fiesty minister turned emotional.

“I feel like crying,” she said before reading out some letters from different provinces in China requesting to display the Malaysian pavilion after the World Expo in Shanghai had ended.

Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabata­ngan) came to Dr Ng’s aid, saying in Mandarin that “the Opposition has turned mad”.

Dr Ng took the opportunity to hit back at Tian Chua, who moved the motion against her.

“I was asked by journalists overseas if it was true that there is an MP here who bit the ear of a policeman.

“You know I can’t lie, so I had to say yes,” she retorted, in reference to Tian Chua’s conviction for biting the arm of a police constable in 2007.

Chin went through a bloc division, with a majority of 11 votes against the motion.

“RM10 also need to vote?” a backbencher was heard mumbling while rushing into the chamber.

The negotiation between Chin’s ministry and the Selangor Government on water sent the temperature in the house up – prompting the Opposition to request for a bloc division.

It was also rare moment in the house to see MPs from both sides of the divide count the numbers on the other side.

The Opposition members laughed as Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee stepped down for Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia to take over the chair in order for him to vote.

“Are you laughing at me or him?” asked a smiling Pandikar Amin.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim signalled with his hands that the vote did not count when Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin walked into the chamber as the votes were being counted.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil will face the music tomorrow and Thursday respectively, while Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will not be spared either.

The duo will be the last to be “scrutinised” on Dec 13.

On Friday, the Rights and Privileges Committee met to deliberate on whether Anwar should be suspended for claiming that the 1Malaysia concept was linked to One Israel by ApcoWorldwide.

The case took a dramatic twist when two members in the committee, Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) and R. Sivarasa (PKR-Subang) decided to withdraw from the committee on grounds that witnesses could not be called to testify.

The decision made by the committee will only be known when its recommendations are tabled in the House.

The Dewan sits again tomorrow.

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