Opposition MPs stage walkout

JUST a day after the start of the Parliament’s new session, Opposition MPs stormed out of Dewan Rakyat in protest over what they claimed were actions that did not abide by the Standing Orders.

The commotion began after the lunch break when Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said stood up to propose for the Prime Minister to be allowed to present a motion of thanks to the former Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Mustafa Billah Shah, while welcoming His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia.

At that time, the House was supposed to resume debate on the motion of thanks for the Royal Address presented earlier by Azli Yusof (PH–Shah Alam).

The Royal Address was delivered by His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, who graced the official opening of the first meeting of the third session of the 15th Parliament on Monday.

Perikatan Nasional whip Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan claimed that such a move did not adhere to the House’s Standing Orders.

Such a motion, he added, should have been included in the day’s Order Paper.

“We have been caught by surprise, without any notice. Why can’t the Prime Minister wait for the third week when ministers wind up the debate?” he said.

Johari said the motion for Anwar to deliver his speech was still subject to being agreed upon by MPs in the House.

Takiyuddin, however, remained adamant that such a move did not adhere to the rules.

Both Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin and Bersatu vice-president Ronald Kiandee then said the government could not use its majority to bulldoze the motion through.

As the Opposition bench staged a walkout, an inaudible verbal exchange broke out, which ended with Johari ordering Datuk Awang Hashim (PN-Pendang) to serve a four-day suspension.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim then proceeded with the motion of thanks, conveying congratulations and pledging loyalty to His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia, and Her Majesty Raja Zarith Sofiah, Queen of Malaysia.

He said he had initially intended to deliver the motion earlier but had to host Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet, who is on a one-day official visit to Malaysia.

Anwar also took a swipe at the Opposition, saying they had failed to show respect to the royal institution through their actions.

“This is the issue in our country, when even after they have listened to the Royal Address, they don’t understand and are only driven blind jealousy,” he said.

Later, at a press conference, Perikatan Nasional chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin described the situation as “something out of the ordinary”.

He questioned how such a scenario was possible, alleging that the process did not abide by Parliament’s Standing Orders.

Hamzah claimed that what happened was an abuse of power.

“We do not agree with it, as the people may think the Opposition is just letting the government do as it wishes.

“Today, we want to prove that as long as they (the government) do not follow the rules, we will oppose,” he said.

The Opposition MPs later returned to the hall, where Hamzah, who is also Larut MP, debated the motion of thanks on the Royal Address.

Before his speech, Hamzah urged Johari to show some leniency on the decision to suspend Awang and ordered the Pendang MP to retract his statement.

Awang stood up and tried to speak but was immediately told by Hamzah to stop arguing and just apologise. Awang then apologised to Johari.

“I agree and accept,” Johari said amid thumps from the floor.

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