KUALA LUMPUR: Ministers or their deputies must be present in the House to answer all questions pertaining to their respective ministries, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof ruled on Tuesday (Oct 30).
He said the ruling was in line with the Parliament's Standing Order and conventions practised in other Westminster parliamentary system such as in the United Kingdom.
"Any questions submitted to ministers are subjected to the provisions under the Dewan Rakyat's Standing Orders which is in line with international conventions.
"I would like to once again remind that ministers and deputy ministers who are responsible over their portfolios that they must be present to respond to any questions raised," he said in the Dewan.
He was responding to the incident when a ruckus broke out in Parliament when a deputy minister declined to answer a question on behalf of another ministry.
It took place when Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (BN-Bagan Datoh) stood up to ask the Home Ministry a supplementary question over the cancellation of a proposed project to upgrade police stations.
Economic Affairs Deputy Minister Mohd Radzi Jidin refused to answer and it triggered Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (BN-Ayer Hitam) to stand to remind the deputy speaker that the absence of the relevant ministers and deputies to answer questions would set a bad precedent.
"We know that there are parliamentary reforms. But it is a bad example and should not happen
"I am aware that the Home Minister needs to recover, but at least his deputy should be around to answer," said Dr Wee.
Dr Wee called for a ruling to be made on ministerial answers to questions in Parliament.
Mohamad Ariff said Standing Order 21 (1) (A) and 21 (3) states that a question must be answered by the minister who has specific knowledge on the issue.