Is there quality in our debates, Bung asks speaker

MPs engaged in heated exchanges during the Dewan Rakyat meeting which ended today.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat was in stitches today when Kinabatangan MP Bung Moktar Radin asked the speaker on the quality of their debates.

This came after Azhar Harun reminded MPs to stop name calling or accusing each other in the next parliamentary meeting.

Azhar, who was appointed speaker on July 13, said he was not “too stern” this time around as he was still new.

He said he saw a trend where some MPs would quickly apologise after name calling but would repeat their action, which led to Bung asking Azhar in jest if their debates had quality and substance.

This meeting, which ended today, saw MPs constantly screaming at each other with words such as “stupid”, “thief”, “traitor”, “saviour”, “backdoor government” and “betrayal” to undermine each other.

Sexist remarks of “gelap tak nampak” (“dark cannot see”) by Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim (BN-Baling) and then telling Kasturi Patto (PH-Batu Kawan) to apply powder to look more visible also caused an uproar.

Some MPs eager to debate on various bills disappointed others because of their lack of research, but were able to use their time to accuse the other side of being sloppy in managing the country.

There was an uproar when Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz confirmed that Malaysia had incurred debts with guarantees that stood at RM1.2 trillion, and that 101 projects worth RM6.61 billion had been awarded through direct negotiation under the then Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration.

Another uproar occurred when Teresa Kok (PH-Seputeh) revealed that Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali had failed to self-quarantine upon returning from Turkey on July 7.

Bills withdrawn

Among the bills that were withdrawn were the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) and the Constitutional Amendment Bill to set a two-term limit to the prime minister’s tenure.

The controversial bill to amend the Poisons Act 1952 was also withdrawn. It would have made it mandatory for doctors to provide prescriptions upon request from patients. At present, doctors prescribe medicines to patients.

Bills tabled

The government tabled two Covid-19 bills – one covering Temporary Measures for Government Financing to seek RM45 billion for stimulus packages to cushion the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the other on Temporary Measures for Reducing the Impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 involving agreements and contracts after the loans moratorium was introduced.

The IPCMC bill was replaced by the Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC) Bill 2020 as the former was said to be “deeply flawed”.

IPCMC is said to have given provisions to police officers to refuse to answer the commission if it could incriminate other officers, and the refusal to disclose information on national security grounds.

The amendments to the Road Transport Act, which were tabled and approved, will see a jail term of between 10 and 15 years for those causing death while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Most of the bills were passed with a slim majority vote count of three to five – perhaps a reflection of the razor-thin majority enjoyed by the PN government over the opposition.

The next meeting of the Dewan Rakyat will be held from Nov 2.