The last-minute move – effective for a day only – came after both sides of the aisle implored the Speaker to allow all MPs to be seated in the House.
On Thursday, a decision was made, following discussions with party whips, to only allow 80 lawmakers to be present in the Dewan Rakyat during the current meeting which started yesterday.
Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had interjected before the start of the tabling of Budget 2021 and asked the Speaker to reconsider the decision.
“I understand that the decision followed the advice of the National Security Council and the Health Ministry. However, the House has been sanitised.
“But I believe this short sitting for today (Friday) will not affect our health, seeing how all lawmakers were present in the House yesterday and the days before,” said the Port Dickson MP.
This was supported by Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan), who said the tabling of the Budget was one of the most important events in parliamentary proceedings.
Azhar, however, said the decision was made by consensus, and even some deputy ministers who appealed to enter the House were turned down.
Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (BN-Pasir Salak) said there was still a lot of room in the House and all the lawmakers had complied with the Covid-19 standard operating procedure (SOP).
“Hence, there is no reason why we can’t fill the space with more lawmakers,” he said.
To this, Azhar replied that he would like to get the views of party whips who had agreed to the decision earlier.
Lim Guan Eng (PH-Bagan) interjected and said although there was a consensus, special consideration could be given to the current situation.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan then said the motion under the Standing Order was already tabled and passed.
Azhar noted that all the issues should have been brought up earlier.
However, after some time, Azhar decided to allow all lawmakers to enter the august House.
The House was adjourned for 10 minutes to allow MPs to take their seats.
Azhar then said permission for all MPs to be present in the House was only for the day.
“I wish to stress that the exception is only for today (Friday) and hope all MPs will cooperate as much as they can.
“However, the rule to allow 80 MPs in each sitting that was decided with the party whips for the entire Dewan Rakyat meeting must be strictly adhered to beginning Monday,” he said.
Azhar also advised that prior notice should be given for any special request so that discussions could be held on the matter.