KUALA LUMPUR: In an unexpected twist, a non-smoking MP has spoken out against a recent Health Ministry notice banning smoking in the august hall.
“I’m not a smoker, but we have to be fair to all who have privileges in the House,” said Datuk Johari Abdul (PH-Sungai Petani) as he sought a ruling on Thursday (Oct 18) from Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof on the validity of the smoking ban imposed at the Parliament building.
“Speaker, you are my boss and our boss, and not the ministers.
“I request that the Speaker inform the ministers that they have no power to place such notices here.
“The notice should be withdrawn and replaced by one bearing your authority,” he said.
Johari, who is chairman of the Pakatan backbenchers club, said he raised the matter after it was reported that an MP was among seven others fined for smoking in Parliament.
He noted that under the Parliament Privileges and Powers Act, it was the Speaker who was in control of Dewan Rakyat, and not ministers.
“This is your House, and no minister has the power here to place notices,” Johari said, amidst cheers and thumping from the floor.
Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) stood up to support Johari's request for Mohamad Ariff to make a ruling.
“No enforcement officers can loiter in Parliament to find fault with MPs, unless it is with the approval from the Speaker.
“This has never happened before,” he said.
Mohamad Ariff told lawmakers to be patient as he needed time to study the House rules and regulations before making a ruling on the matter.
In the Parliament lobby, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said as the minister in charge of parliamentary affairs, he had not been informed of the notice by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
“I feel that it is best for the minister to make a courtesy call on the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat and explain his intention to ban smoking in Parliament,” he said.
Liew said that he was informed that a courtesy call would take place later today (Oct 18).