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BN reps walk out of Penang assembly after motion amended

 | November 14, 2017

They claim amended motion is a mockery of the original, which was intended to control hillside development.

jahara-hamid-dewan-undangan-negeri-1GEORGE TOWN: Nine Barisan Nasional (BN) assemblymen in the Penang assembly today staged a walkout after one of their motions on stopping hillside development was amended by the Pakatan Harapan (PH)-led state government.

The newly-written motion on barring hill-site development places the burden on the federal government, through a joint safety committee with the state government.

The BN reps said land matters should remain at the behest of the state, not the federal government. They also said the amended motion was a mockery of the original, which was intended to control development.

The nine BN assembly members left the chambers in protest. Another representative, Bayan Lepas rep Nordin Ahmad, was absent.

“This is what you call dirty and gutter politics. The Pakatan Harapan reps are oppressing the voices of the minority in the house.

“They have backstabbed us by making an amendment. By creating an amendment, they have effectively made the motion theirs.

“So as a sign of protest, we have walked out of the Dewan,” state opposition leader Jahara Hamid told reporters outside the chambers of the assembly.

The motion in question was proposed by Muhammad Farid Saad (BN-Pulau Betong).

He had asked for a motion to stop all hill-slope and hill-site development, given the recurring flash floods experienced by the state.

He said a proper drainage plan needed to be put in place, with a personal guarantee from the developers that they would be responsible for any floods that might occur in the future. Only then should development take place, he added.

Farid also suggested that development projects on land above 76m should be barred. All future developments must strictly follow the state’s official town planning guide – the State Structure Plan.

His motion was set in the order paper of the state assembly.

However, his motion was amended, and the amended version was read out at the tail end of the session.

The most apparent change in the motion was the formation of a “Joint Committee to Handle Implications of Climate Change” and the addition of “stricter” monitoring of projects at “sensitive areas”.

The joint committee, comprising members of the Penang and federal governments, would hold an “audit” on all development projects in Penang, ensuring better safety-related enforcement at construction sites.

Farid said the new amended motion appeared to have put the burden of hill-site development on the federal government, but that in reality, all land matters fell under the purview of the state.

“This is not the first time they have changed our motion. The state government has used their majority power to amend the motion.

“First, they appear to agree with our motion. Then our motion was approved by the speaker. After all that, they then choose to amend it to their liking.

“This is not healthy at all. Although legally allowed, it is morally wrong,” he said.

Before the walkout, Deputy Chief Minister I Mohd Rashid Hasnon (PKR-Pantai Jerejak) read out what was supposedly Farid’s motion.

Speaker Law Choo Kiang (PKR-Bukit Tambun) called for a vote, with all 29 members from PH and one from PAS standing up in support.

Farid then stood up as well and said he would wholeheartedly reject the motion as it was “ciplak” (copied).

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Air Putih) however said there was no such thing as copying as the house had the right to amend any motion.

Jahara (BN-Telok Ayer Tawar) also said she was upset with the amendment as the original intention of the motion, in essence, was not there.

A debate then ensued between Lim, Farid and Jahara over the right to amend motions.

As the BN reps were walking out, Lim warned them not to leave.

“Don’t run away. Cowards,” he said, as other PH reps joined him in a chorus of brickbats against the BN reps.

After the BN reps left, speaker Law said all motions were proposed and debated according to the Standing Orders of the house.

He said some motions by the ruling party were also thrown out and that he was fair to all.

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