Bandar Malaysia among ‘fireworks’ as Dewan Rakyat sits again

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This year’s second sitting of the Dewan Rakyat begins today and observers will be tuning their ears to speeches crafted as campaign material for the 14th general election.

The MPs from the ruling coalition are expected to be divided into two groups, with one group playing it cool and the other trying to discredit the opposition.

The cool cats will try to give the message that the economy is improving and that the government is here to make life easy for all Malaysians with affordable medical care, educational opportunities, BR1M and a world class MRT system.

The MPs in this group are also likely to defend the troubled Bandar Malaysia project and drum up excitement for the SEA Games, which will take place next month.

They are expected to go all out to prove that they are the defenders of the Muslim faith by showing unity with PAS while praising the Najib administration as one that is fair and just to all Malaysians regardless of race and religion.

Several bills that will be extolled as beneficial to the rakyat are likely to be pushed through. These may include the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (Amendment) Bill, the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill, the Land Public Transport (Amendment) Bill, the Malaysian Border Security Agency Bill and the Private Employment Agencies (Amendment) Bill.

But all eyes will be on the unfinished matter of PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s motion to amend the Shariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act of 1965. Debate on the motion began on April 6 after two postponements requested by Hadi. However, it was interrupted when the Speaker adjourned the Dewan Rakyat on the same day.

Hadi, who recently had heart surgery, will have to be present for the winding up of the debate.

Barisan Nasional MPs in the “bad cops” group are likely to try to discredit Pakatan Harapan’s leadership line-up – which has former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his one-time enemy Anwar Ibrahim at the top – and attack the Chinese-dominated DAP as the alleged kingmaker in the opposition coalition. This could lead to fierce clashes in the house.

The opposition

Pakatan Harapan MPs are expected to push for an emergency motion to discuss issues surrounding the United States Department of Justice’s latest disclosure that it was seeking to recover US$540 million (RM2.3 billion) in assets that it said were purchased with money allegedly embezzled from 1MDB.

Another hot topic that Pakatan would bring up would be the latest events in France pertaining to the Malaysian purchase of Scorpene submarines 15 years ago. French authorities last week indicted two former top executives connected to graft allegations involving the sale.

The opposition MPs will continue to discredit the government’s performance with regard to the economy, citing the high cost of living, stagnant salaries and rising unemployment.

There is also likely to be severe criticism of the Registrar of Societies (RoS), which has told DAP to hold a re-election for its central executive committee. DAP has complained that the directive was given to it during a period in which the 14th general election could be called at any time. DAP and its allies, as well as their supporters, have voiced suspicion that ROS is in cahoots with BN to sabotage the party.

One thing is certain: this session of the Dewan Rakyat ( which ends on August 10) will be full of fireworks and may end with a huge bang.