I am aware of the discussions going on, most particularly after the correspondence between Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and I was made public and after my media statement last evening.
Allow me to address two burning issues, namely:
Whether the speaker has the power within the boundary of the laws or convention to speed up the debate of a private member’s motion of no-confidence in the Dewan Rakyat; and,
Whether a motion under Standing Order 18(1), namely, to discuss a defined matter of urgent public importance could be used to circumvent the order of business of the Dewan Rakyat so that a motion of no-confidence could jump the queue and be debated before government business….. (+ 10 pages)
Screeds of legalistic self-justification have just emanated from the non-elected Speaker to explain why he allegedly determines he should place a call for a crucial vote of no confidence by the leaders of the largest block of MPs in Parliament at the back of the queue of business (to be discarded).
Hands up who read it through: No Comments!
So let’s cut to the chase, because this is about democracy and the will of the representatives of the people and no one is going to read this tedious and self-serving ‘judgement’.
Parliament exists to reflect the sovereign will of the people. It makes the laws and can change them also. Speakers do not need to be professional lawyers to interpret those bygone laws like judges, their job is to command the confidence of the present majority in the chamber and make sure that what they consider to be the important issues are discussed.
Above all, the Speaker must not be seen as the lackey of the executive, protecting prime ministers and preventing debates on matters of concern. He represents the MPs.
This means responding instantly to any plausible demand by the majority leaders to hold a vote of confidence. Drab debates, which the beleaguered prime minister might prefer to have time wasted on instead, should take their place after in the queue.
So it’s short and simple. Forget the clauses, the articles and subsections that guide the conduct of business (and can be argued to mean anything and nothing) and respond to the moment.
Call the vote.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been summoned to the Bukit Aman federal police headquarters tomorrow to give his statement over the list of MPs who purportedly support him to become prime minister.
According to a statement by Criminal Investigation Department (CID) director Huzir Mohamed, the police have so far received a total of 113 reports over the matter.
“The police are still conducting an investigation over the claim, which had gone viral on social media.
“And thus, Anwar has been asked to present himself at the office of the Classified Investigation Unit, CID Bukit Aman on Oct 16 to give his statement,” Huzir said.
Amidst the reimposition of partial Covid lockdown by a government that has brazenly used the pandemic to assist its survival for several months, this incident stands out.
Bersatu types have been reporting a non-existent crime about the publication of a supposed list of names by an anonymous source and the government with no followers has pressured the police to detain and question Anwar about it.
This frivolous exercise is apparently OK despite the new Covid restrictions.
Meanwhile, the Agong has suspended interviewing key political leaders about whether they back the present government as evidence builds of a total collapse of support for the beleaguered prime minister.
The reason given for the suspension of this vital exercise? The same Covid restrictions which have not prevented the police from harassing Anwar.
Malaysia can only be sick and tired of this bogus backdoor administration based on a half-baked coup and backed up by a litany of corrupt deals to broker fragile support.
Parliament is there for a reason, which is to decide who commands the support of those elected by the people and to oversee the integrity of the administration.
If Anwar can be called to Bukit Aman, then MPs can be called to Putrajaya.
“With all respect, I request an assurance that the no-confidence motion will be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat as a priority in the next sitting,” Razaleigh said in the letter addressed to the Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun.
Malaysiakini is seeking the speaker’s comment on the above matter.
Azhar had responded to Razaleigh on Sept 29 through a letter in which he said the Standing Orders stated that government matters must be prioritised over other matters.
He also pointed out that private motions submitted by MPs were arranged in the Order Paper in the order they were submitted.
Not only that, he said the arrangement of the current Order Paper was actually done by his predecessor Mohamad Ariff Yusof.
Azhar said any MPs could provide notice to the speaker’s office to table a motion and he would consider it based on the Standing Orders.
Gone is the popular crusader for reform and justice in ‘Art’ Harun. In his place a full-blown traditional toady grovelling to the prime minister of the day – Pandikar would be proud of him.
Once a mere young ambitious lawyer with an opposition bent and a youtube comic presence on the side, he now has ‘status’, as a non-elected Speaker appointed by the leader of a backdoor coup, who needs him to manage Parliament against the wishes of the majority of MPs whom he is SUPPOSED to represent.
Dump the reformist aspirations and sink into the plush comfort of the chauffeur-driven car with a string of personal flunkies to support one’s life.
One of the key reforms the old Harun would doubtless loudly have supported would have been for the Speaker to be elected by MPs from amongst their own, as with most developed democracies (not an unconstitutionally appointed, non-elected servant to the PM, like himself).
Yet here we see him embracing all the old tricks, deplored by himself and his intellectual reformist friends not so long ago, whereby BN Prime Ministers corruptly abused the Speaker to prevent unfriendly votes being called and to control Parliament, instead of allowing Parliament to fulfil its sovereign role.
That sort of Speaker only operates in a sham Parliament and by his answers to this call for a vote by a senior politician who is addressing the major issue of the day, namely the loss of the confidence of the majority of MPs in ‘PM8′, Harun has demonstrated he is now willing to sign up to the same old despicable practices to protect his “Boss Man”…. and keep his fancy salary, perks and ever so important ‘status’.
Speaker Harun is therefore predictably arguing that ‘Government Business’ ought to be addressed instead and indicates no time will be available in the sparse calendar where MPs are paid for a full-time job but scarcely ever sit.
So, what is the sort of business that Speaker Harun does find time for? At the last truncated sitting of Parliament in July, out of a total of 25 days 11 were spent debating the King’s opening address. Then a further 5 days were spent on Minister’s replies. A mere 8 days were then allowed for ‘Bills & Government Business‘.
No time spare in such a schedule for a swift vote to test who really leads the country?
Such pantomimes should end and the first step should be a reform bill that demands the Speaker should henceforth be elected by MPs to serve the wishes of the sovereign representatives of the people and not by the prime minister to protect himself from negative debates and certainly not to protect a couple of jumped up rebels who have snatched power from a rightfully elected government.
Zahid Hamidi’s audience with the Agong has been postponed…
“Yes, my meeting has been postponed as well to a later date,” he told .. when contacted.
Istana Negara has also postponed a meeting with DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) president Mohamad Sabu.
Yesterday, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said after his audience that the Agong would meet the heads of political parties to verify the former’s claim to have secured majority support with which to take over the government.
However, the Istana Negara said in a statement after Anwar’s audience that the Opposition leader did not provide a detailed list of lawmakers whose support he claimed, and that Al-Sultan Abdullah then advised Anwar to abide by the Federal Constitution.
The comptroller of the royal household also said that Istana Negara was in a “semi-lockdown” pursuant to the conditional movement control order imposed on the Klang Valley.
Umno veteran Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah was seen entering the Istana Negara after Anwar left yesterday.
Watching the weeks of prevarication, ducking and diving by certain actors in Malaysia one could be forgiven for thinking the country has forgotten that it is supposed to be a parliamentary democracy.
Parliament has of course barely been called since Moo’s backdoor coup in February and the country has been run by effective decree.
If, as appears certain, the Parliament-shy PM has now lost his tiny majority in the sovereign representative assembly then there is one place to test that crucial matter and that is in the sovereign Parliament itself.
Indeed, when this now protracted crisis first hit with the Azmin/Bersatu defection at the start of the year the former prime minister immediately sought to call an emergency sitting of Parliament to test support among the people’s representatives, who are the ultimate authority in the land (not the Agong).
That was the right and proper thing to do, but the move was immediately scotched by Muhyiddin, who was given his chance by the Agong to take over the PM role without any reference to Parliament after he lied about his numbers – in fact no MP had named him as their leader.
Now, once more Parliament is being denied its leading role instead of being called to settle who governs in a proper and open manner.
In consequence, the country continues to be ruled by a handful of hated and fractious rebels who are looting the public purse and running Malaysia’s credibility into the ground.
Wait for the November sitting of Parliament to be ‘postponed owing to Covid’ also.
Sarawak’s timber policy is in need of a review, Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) secretary-general Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi said today, claiming that “certain people” who became very rich from it over the years from are now unfriendly to the ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).
“If it is true that people in the timber industry are not being nice to us in this coming state election, then we appeal to the chief minister, in the interest of and for the people, to relook and revamp the current timber industry policy,” he said at the PBB mini-convention for the central zone of Sarawak here…
He said there is no doubt that the state has benefitted from the timber industry through the imposition of taxes and royalty.
“But at the same time, the industry has made certain people very rich, and it is time for the state government to come out with a new policy, restructure the whole industry and do how things should be done for the overall benefits of the people,” he said.
With all this talk of ‘restructuring the timber industry’ the PBB secretary-general is clearly seeking to threaten those from the charmed circle of timber cronies who have started to stir up opposition to his GPS coalition – cronies who have benefitted from his party’s policies are expected to remain loyal.
Yet in the process, he has confirmed that Sarawak Report has been right all along in saying that the plunder of the rainforest has “made certain people very rich” and it is indeed time for policies designed for the “overall benefit of the people”.
He should know, since he is one of those very rich people who has inherited the benefits of major shares in vast concessions handed to companies such as Rajang Wood and Keresa Timber, which chopped down hundreds of thousands of hectares.
The Linggi family would deny that these privileges were granted in return for their key support of the Sarawak kleptocrat Taib Mahmud and the PBB party, of which Alexander Linggi is now himself Secretary General.
Of course, such disgraceful patronage ought to be got rid of and of course timber concessions should be openly tendered at the right price and maximum public advantage.
However, Linggi is plainly saying this merely as a pre-election talk to tar his rivals from PSB (funded by timber interests) and convince poor voters for the hundredth time that the GPS parties will do something for them …. finally.
The sad fact is there is no more timber to have a policy about. What is needed is a thorough review of all corruptly issued concessions and a reparation of the proceeds.
Next Sarawak must look forward to greener policies that can restore the forests and deliver for the people not the plunderers, who include his own super-rich family.
GPS have refused to take this path and people should vote them out.