Members of Parliament may harp about the practices of western parliaments, but they do not even act like they belong in one, House Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia says today.
“We always say we are a democratic country, we should emulate how democratic countries operate.
“But we don’t act like the lawmakers we refer to.
“In the British House of Commons, there are no MPs who walk out during the tabling of the budget, never,” Pandikar told a press conference in the Parliament reception room today.
This was a swipe at opposition lawmakers who walked out of the Dewan Rakyat during Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s Budget 2017 speech last Friday.
“Maybe for me, as someone who moved to the city from a kampung because I happen to work here, I can’t fathom this sort of thinking,” he said in jest.
He said he felt sad that the public, who don’t know the House rules and conventions, were swayed by media reports and the actions of lawmakers who ran against these norms but pretended it was democracy.
Pandikar said ultimately, it is the MPs who must behave themselves.
“During a debate, no speaker in the world can control anybody unless you put cellotape or masking tape on their mouths.
“The control is actually them (the lawmakers),” he said, noting that they were supposed to be the best in society.
If Speaker Pandikar wishes to lecture MPs on how things are done at Westminster he should at least show a basic awareness of that most sacred of institutions, which is Parliamentary Privilege.
Parliamentary Privilege acknowledges the right of MPs to discuss all matters they consider to be important and relevant freely within the House.
Even if that might embarrass the Prime Minister!
Instead, because it might embarrass the Prime Minister, Pandikar has ruled that there must be zero mention of 1MDB in Parliament.
He came up with a lie for an excuse, saying it was ‘sub-judice’. To the contrary all investigations and prosecutions into 1MDB have been dropped by the AG, again on the demand of the Prime Minister, who had unconstitutionally sacked his predecessor for initiating a prosecution (against him).
But, even if it were sub-judice, the point of Parliamentary Privilege is that it frees MPs from the danger of contempt of court, if they consider the matter important enough to be raised within the confines of the House.
So, having been illegally denied their constitutional right and duty to talk about the pressing matters of the day, MPs chose to walk instead. Every democrat in genuine parliaments across the world would support and sympathise with that gesture and it is Mr Pandikar who stands deplored in all such circles.
But, maybe he is holding out for that second private toilet, which his offices undoubtably stand in need of given all these troubled times?
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