Johari mulls making MPs pay for being absent

KUALA LUMPUR: Don’t turn up, get your allowance docked.

This measure is being seriously considered as a way to deter absenteeism among MPs, said Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul.

He said there have been calls to have the Parliament Standing Orders amended to pave the way for this.

“If you don’t come for X hours a day, you don’t get an allowance for that day. I think that is a good idea. They must spend certain amount of time in the House before they are entitled to the daily allowances they are paid.”

The daily allowance is about RM500 a day and, according to the Speaker, “Sometimes they come for five minutes and they go out and never come back.”

He said that it is unfair as lawmakers are supposed to attend the proceedings to discuss matters related to their constituency and their constituents.

Sometimes MPs are absent for days, but he does not have the authority to penalise them.

“If they are absent for certain days continuously with no logical reason, I think the Speaker should (be able to) take action and punish them by not paying them their allowances,” said Johari.

He said the idea will be brought before the House Committee which he chairs. The committee comprises members from various political parties.

“Let me talk to them about whether that is possible or not,” he said, adding that “I will (take it to the committee) because there is a call now.”

Johari said he has also been reading comments on social media in which people have raised the issue of absenteeism among MPs.

“They have been saying how come our MPs are absent for no reason, especially during Prime Minister’s Question Time on Tuesdays. That is when I think Parliament should have a full house because the Prime Minister is there,” he said.

Prime Minister’s Question Time, which is held on Tuesdays, was introduced by the current administration when the 15th Parliament convened its first meeting in February.

“The PM is willing to answer. MPs should take advantage. And on Thursdays, you have Minister’s Question Time. This is when MPs should take advantage by coming.

“It is embarrassing to raise this issue because I think they are mature enough to know their responsibilities,” added Johari.

In the first meeting of the 15th Parliament, only 97 MPs recorded a perfect attendance.

Parliament Standing Order 13 states that there must be at least 26 MPs in the 222-seat Dewan for proceedings to be held.

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