Speaker defends absentee MPs ‘As long as there is a quorum, it’s sufficient’


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 25 Oct 2018

Reports by MARTIN CARVALHO, RAHIMY RAHIM and FATIMAH ZAINAL

SPEAKER Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof has dismissed as “too drastic” an opposition member’s suggestion for allowances of errant MPs to be reviewed, even as the Dewan Rakyat struggles with its daily attendance.

He said it was normal for Parliament to see low attendance as the politicians might have other commitments.

“When debates go on until late in the night, 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 Parliament are close to each other, so these things must be considered,” he told reporters.

“As long as there is a quorum, it is sufficient for Dewan Rakyat proceedings to take place.”

On Tuesday, Awang Hashim (PAS-Pendang) called for the review, claiming that less than 20% or only 38 of the 222 MPs were present.

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak also pointed out the empty seats in the government bench during his debate.

On a move by Public Accounts Committee (PAC) deputy chairman Wong Kah Woh to have its proceedings open to the public, Mohamad Ariff said it was better to keep these confidential and to only allow public access on a case by case basis.

On Monday, Wong filed a motion to suspend Standing Order 85 in the Standing Orders, which prevented the PAC from opening its proceedings to the public.

Mohamad Ariff said several legal matters had to be ironed out.

He said the Houses of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Act prohibited public hearings until a report on a matter was presented.

The Act also means that evidence presented before the committee is still confidential.

“So, we need to have that changed before we can change Order 85 but the idea is clear, which is to open the proceedings.

“This is a policy matter but I tend to think it is better to have the proceedings confidential. Some countries have made the proceedings open but subject to exceptions,” he said.

Mohamad Ariff also said they were still looking for the right people to fill the posts in the various parliamentary select committees.

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