Speaker: Low attendance in Parliament normal due to MPs' other commitments

KUALA LUMPUR: Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof (pic) says it is normal for Parliament sittings to see low attendance as MPs may have other commitments to attend to. 

He is also not in favour of cutting allowances of errant parliamentarians, saying that as long as there is quorum, it is sufficient for Dewan Rakyat proceedings to take place.

Mohamad Ariff said this in response to a PAS lawmaker's call for him to look into the low attendance by politicians from both sides of the divide. 

On Tuesday (Oct 23), PAS Pendang MP Awang Hashim called for a review of allowance for lawmakers who fail to turn up for Parliament sittings without any valid reasons.

Awang said MPs who attend the meeting for a short time and those who attend the meeting in full from morning until night got the same allowance. He called for a review of this. 

When asked to comment, Mohamad Ariff said an allowance cut was "too drastic".  

"When debates go on until late night in Parliament, of course, we won't get 100% attendance. 

"We also understand that ministers have work in the office, and we're not like Australia where the ministries and the Parliament are close to each other. 

"Our ministers stay in Putrajaya. They have work to do, so these things must be considered," Mohamad Ariff told reporters in Parliament on Wednesday (Oct 24).

Awang had on Tuesday also asked the Speaker to address the low attendance of lawmakers from both sides of the political divide as he said less than 20%, or only 38 lawmakers out of 222, were present in Parliament that day. 

Former prime minister and Pekan MP Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak also criticised the empty seats of government MPs while he was debating a motion on Tuesday. 

According to Standing Order 13(1), there must be at least 26 MPs at the Dewan Rakyat proceedings.

Mohamad Ariff, however, said it was more important that issues are presented and debated in Parliament and then recorded in the Hansard. 

"That's what is important. Present what you want in Parliament and so that it is recorded. 

"Sometimes the Dewan Rakyat is full, sometimes there are fewer people, and this is normal," said Mohamad Ariff.

Deputy Speaker Nga Kor King said Pakatan Harapan has a list of MPs that have to speak in Parliament. 

"They are usually present in Parliament and will enter the House when it is their turn to speak," he told reporters in Parliament on Wednesday.


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