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By Nik Nurfaqih Nik Wil
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 14 -- The First Meeting of the Fourth Session of the 14th Parliament, the first under the government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, ended on Tuesday after a 17-day sitting.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, the sitting which was conducted under strict adherence to the standard operating procedures and the COVID-19 saliva RTK test conducted twice a week, went on smoothly.
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun expressed his gratitude over the smooth running of the Parliament sitting with no COVID-19 clusters detected except for only nine community cases reported.
In fact, in the last two days of the sitting, members of Parliament (MPs) were allowed to remove their face mask when debating.
The sitting, which began two days after Parliament's 62nd anniversary celebration, also witnessed the historic signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Political Stability and Transformation between the federal government and Pakatan Harapan (PH) at the Parliament building.
The MoU signed by Ismail Sabri and the opposition leaders from PH, is aimed at establishing bipartisan cooperation between the two parties which upholds the spirit of Keluarga Malaysia.
The sitting was also a little short of drama as the debate and questions raised by MPs from both the government and opposition blocs mostly revolved around problems faced by the people in their respective parliamentary constituencies.
Among the issues mostly raised were unemployment, the provision of assistance to the people, post-COVID-19, Parliament transformation, economic recovery, the future of national education, high-speed internet access and matters related to Sabah and Sarawak, especially involving the The Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the Pan Borneo Highway.
The sitting which was officiated by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah on 13 Sept, also saw the tabling of the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), the country’s five-year (2021-2025) development road map by Ismail Sabri on Sept 27.
The motion on the 12MP was passed last Thursday after witnessing more voice in support than against it and being debated by 106 MPs, followed by the winding-up sessions by 27 ministries.
Also approved with a majority voice vote at the sitting were three bills, namely the Temporary Measures for Government Financing [Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)] (Amendment) 2021); the National Trust Fund (Amendment) 2021); and the Windfall Profit Levy (Amendment) 2020).
In addition, five bills were tabled for the first reading, namely the National Trust Fund (Amendment) 2021; the Malaysia Deposit Insurance Corporation(Amendment) 2021; the Trade Descriptions (Amendment) 2021; Wildlife Conservation (Amendment) 2021; Small Estates (Distribution) (Amendment) 2021; and the Advocates Ordinance (Sabah) (Amendment) 2021).
The Auditor General’s Report 2019 Series 2 was also tabled which saw the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) initiating proceedings on 25 punitive issues reported in the document.
Also stealing the limelight at the sitting was the motion to elect the Deputy Speaker which was originally listed in the Order Paper, after the post fell vacant following the resignation of Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said on Aug 23.
However, Azalina caught everyone by surprise when she suddenly appeared to preside over the sitting during the afternoon session, explaining that she was asked by Azhar to do so in accordance with Standing Order 7 (3) of the Dewan Rakyat.
“I would also like to thank Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said who was willing to chair the meeting several times throughout the sitting. I really appreciate her willingness,” said Azhar on the last day of the sitting.
However, the atmosphere was tense towards the end of the meeting when Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s proposal to debate the motion on the Pandora Papers was rejected by the Dewan Rakyat speaker on the grounds that there was no need for the matter to be expedited, at the expense of other issues listed in the Order Paper.
The motion to annul the the Emergency Ordinances which should have been tabled and debated on the last day of the sitting in accordance with the Dewan Rakyat Order Paper was deferred to the next meeting.
According to the Parliament calendar, the Second Meeting of the 14th Session of the Dewan Rakyat is scheduled to be held for 32 days starting on Oct 25, during which Budget 2022 would be tabled on Oct 29.
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