GEORGE TOWN: It is not easy being a minority in the state assembly.
Opposition leader Muhamad Yusoff Mohd Noor (BN-Sungai Dua) found himself with little wriggle room while debating the Supply Bill.
Of the 40 seats in the assembly, Pakatan Harapan has the lion’s share. Umno has two seats and PAS has one.
Muhamad Yusoff was highlighting hillside clearing in Penang when state Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh stood up and asked for leave to speak.
“We are a professional government with exacting procedures. When you speak, can you show some standard, please?
“What hillside clearing are you talking about? This state government has never approved a single square inch of hillside clearing,” Phee said.
Muhamad Yusoff then clarified that he was referring to illegal hill clearing but Phee was still on the offensive.
“In that case, can you bring to the Hall a report on the instances of illegal hill clearing?
“Don’t just come here once every six months and ‘tembak kosong’ (shoot blanks). When you find illegal hill clearing activities, report to the enforcers so that action can be quickly taken,” Phee said.
Before Muhamad Yusoff could reply, it seemed he found a temporary ally in M. Satees (PH-Bagan Dalam).
“I agree with Muhamad Yusoff that enforcement is an issue.
“There exists a law that prevents anyone in Malaysia from cutting any tree anywhere that has a trunk diameter larger than 80cm. Even if the tree is on your land, you need permission from local councils to chop it down.
“But in my five years as a municipal councillor, I only saw this law enforced twice,” he said, urging state Local Government Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo to get the local councils to be stricter enforcers.
But Muhamad Yusoff lost his temporary ally when he expressed regret that the government allowed Oktoberfest celebrations in Penang.
Satees stood up, asked for the floor and upbraided the opposition leader.
“Nobody celebrated Oktoberfest in public places like the Esplanade or Dewan Sri Pinang.
“The celebrations were in private venues and it is just their culture. What is wrong with it?
“Don’t accuse me of encouraging the drinking habit. You know I am one of the founders of the Malaysian Anti-Cheap Liquor Movement.
“The state government took no part in organising private Oktoberfest celebrations. Now I am not with you anymore,” Satees said.
Muhamad Yusoff took the floor again and said: “You are very fierce” to Satees before moving on to raise drug abuse problems.