First week of Parliament has exposed it as utterly irrelevant, outmoded and in need of major parliamentary reforms to keep it abreast with modern trends and developments
The first week of Parliament has exposed it as utterly irrelevant, outmoded and in need of major parliamentary reforms to keep it abreast with modern trends and developments.
Three Members of Parliament – Ramkarpal Singh (Harapan – Bukit Gelugor), Salahuddin Ayub (Pakatan Harapan – Pulai) and Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis (Warisan – Kota Belud) had sought an emergency Dewan Rakyat debate over the seizure of Petronas’ assets by purported descendants of the Sulu sultanate who are claiming US14 billion from Malaysia, but they were blocked by the Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun who cited sub judice rules to prevent debates in Parliament.
Instead, the government held a closed-door briefing session at Seri Pacific Hotel in Kuala Lumpur last night for parliamentarians on claims over Petronas assets by the purported heirs of the Sulu sultanate.
If a debate on the matter was denied on sub judice grounds, wouldn’t such a closed-door briefing for MPs be similarly improper on sub judice grounds?
I asked an MP who attended last night’s briefing whether anything said at the briefing could not be said in Parliament on security or other grounds, he answered “No”!
What happened at the briefing last night was disclosure on the chronology of the case and should be stated in Parliament, as it is not only MPs but the people of Malaysia, in particular the people of Sabah, who have the right to know the full facts of the matter.
The briefing to MPs yesterday cannot be replacement for a parliamentary debate, which should now be by way of a Ministerial statement followed by a debate.
The Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun was wrong when in response to objections raised by MP for Sepang, Mohamed Hanipa Maidin, arguing that his subj judice rulings was incorrect as the rule should be used on a case-by-case basis, the Speaker said that debating the matter could reveal the government's legal strategies to the enemy.
The Speaker is right that the government’s strategy in any litigation should not be revealed, but it is not the Speaker’s job to impose a blanket ban to prevent any debate on any issue but to uphold a Minister’s right not to disclose such a government strategy.
It is shocking that the important principle of the doctrine of separation of powers and parliamentary supremacy from the Executive should be reduced to disrespect to ushers, but it a disgrace to the Malaysian Parliament that a foul-mouthed parliamentarian could get away with the most unparliamentary attack against women parliamentarians in the House.