‘Where is Saifuddin Nasution?’ question leads to heated debate in Penang state assembly


GEORGE TOWN: The absence of Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (PH-Pantai Jerejak) from the ongoing state assembly meeting since it began on (Oct 12) Monday became a hot topic in the meeting.

Before the state executive council could proceed with the summing up session on Friday (Oct 16), Zulkifli Ibrahim (Bersatu-Sungai Acheh) rose to ask Speaker Datuk Law Choo Kiang if he knew where Saifuddin was.

"I was not informed, but generally speaking, he may arrive at any time," Law replied.

Dr Afif Bahardin (Bersatu-Seberang Jaya) then read out a rule of the august hall that requires any member who cannot attend the meeting to inform the secretary and obtain a leave of absence.

"I feel he doesn't respect the hall. Is he under quarantine? Nobody here knows.

"This is the first time this year that we can debate on state matters since the movement control order (MCO) and it is an important task," Dr Afif added.

Saifuddin is also the secretary-general of PKR and Kulim-Bandar Bahru MP.

Many Pakatan Harapan assemblymen then rose and started talking to Dr Afif loudly at once, which led to a war of words between them.

Law asked everyone to sit down but his voice was drowned out.

After Law got their attention, he reminded them that the rules of the Hall do not make it compulsory for any member to be present, and leave of absence is only needed if a member is unable to attend the whole meeting.

But Opposition members of the assembly would not let it go and at one point, Dr Afif alleged that Saifuddin was earning “gaji buta (taking a salary without actually working)”.

That caused order in the Hall to break down.

Many Pakatan assemblymen demanded Dr Afif take the remark back.

"Sit down! You are wasting everybody's time!" Jagdeep Singh Deo (PH-Datok Keramat) shouted at Dr Afif.

"They are worried that the Perikatan Nasional government will fall!" Dr P. Ramasamy (PH-Perai) said.

"I know why you all raised this. I have given it five minutes. Stand up some more and I as Speaker will empty your seat," Law warned, adding later that he would order any member out of the Hall even if they were state executive councillors when Dr Norlela Ariffin (PH-Penaga) insisted on wanting to say something.

After things calmed down, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow rose to table the next motion and reminded everyone that according to the rules of the Hall, members of the Hall comply with the rules even if they attend the meeting for just one minute in a six-month period.

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