Argument erupts over Special Chambers price hike debate

AN argument erupted after a request to debate the issue of consumer goods price increases was slotted for the Special Chambers, prompting anger from opposition MPs.Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the price hikes was a national matter and should be debated in the main chamber of the Dewan Rakyat.

“It will allow more MPs to be involved. The issue does not involve only one ministry.

“And if it is debated in Special Chambers, only Kapit (Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi) will answer the question, but we know the issue involves the Agriculture, Finance and Economy (ministries).

“That is why it cannot be debated in the Special Chambers as the debates will be limited,” said Anwar.Earlier, Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub (PH-Pulai) filed a private motion to discuss the issue of the price hike of basic necessities.

Salahuddin filed the motion after he received an appeal letter from a trader outside Parliament House asking him for it to be handed to Nanta’s ministry.

The Special Chambers was created as part of parliamentary reforms six years ago to ensure all emergency motions filed by MPs will be debated and answered by the government, without disrupting proceedings in the main chamber.

Deputy Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon said the debate can be held in the Special Chambers at 2.30pm after the morning’s Question Time session.

Rashid was responding to Salahuddin’s motion to debate the issue in the House.

Anwar then asked whether other related ministers would be allowed to answer on the issue.

“There are at least four ministries involved. If you are firm on the decision, is there any guarantee that all the ministers will be present at the Special Chambers?” he queried.

Datuk Hasanuddin Mohd Yunus (PH-Hulu Langat) said debates in Special Chambers were “one-way” and did not provide space for debate.However, the Deputy Speaker said the matter could still be debated in detail in the chambers.

“I have made my decision, the motion was directed to the ministry. But it is up to him to invite other ministers,” he added.

Several other opposition MPs then appealed to the Deputy Speaker to change his decision but he maintained that it would be discussed in the Special Chambers.

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