KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 — The Dewan Rakyat sitting that commenced this week was held in a new political spirit with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Political Stability and Transformation between the government and Pakatan Harapan (PH).
The historic MoU was signed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and party leaders in PH, at about 5 pm Monday (Sept 13) at the Parliament building, to form bipartisan cooperation which upholds the spirit of the Malaysian Family.
The six-point MoU, which has been agreed to be non-confidential and made public, covers the areas of strengthening the plan to fight COVID-19, the transformation of the administration, Parliamentary reforms, ensuring judicial independence, the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), and formation of a steering committee.
Among other things, the government agreed not to dissolve Parliament before July 31, 2022, and PH agreed to support or abstain from voting for Budget 2022 and the supply or finance laws related to Budget 2022, while the process of drafting the bills to be negotiated and mutually agreed upon.
The cooperation was seen in line with the decree of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah in his royal address, when opening the Fourth Session of the 14th Parliament on the same day, advising all quarters to practice deliberative democracy in finding solutions to any problem.
Following that, the debate on the motion of thanks to the royal address on Tuesday and Wednesday revolved around the MoU with the majority of Members of Parliament (MPs), both in the government and the opposition, welcoming the initiative of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri.
Some in the opposition further detailed the terms of the understanding, and Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said that the MoU on Transformation and Political Stability under the leadership of Ismail Sabri clearly emphasized the understanding of the opposition to reject the agreement if there were no negotiations.
Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (Warisan-Semporna) said although the party remained committed to playing a check and balance role, describing the party-hopping elements implemented through the MoU spirit as a positive development in achieving political maturity.
“Warisan will continue to be committed to fighting for national issues with the government. Priority will be given to issues that have direct implications for the people,” he said, during the Dewan Rakyat sitting.
However, it was not a Dewan Rakyat sitting if it was not interspersed with the exchange of heated words between MPs that led to an uproar, and this time, RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong) was ordered to leave the Dewan Rakyat after refusing to retract the word ‘memalukan’ (shameful) against the Deputy Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon.
The uproar, on the second day of the sitting, erupted when a motion proposing to replace Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun, was raised by opposition MPs.
Meanwhile, spirit of political cooperation to solve problems and restore the country, currently in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, became one of the issues raised by most MPs during the debate on the motion of thanks for the royal address.
The Dewan Rakyat also approved a motion to postpone the election of the Deputy Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat to the next sitting, to enable Article 57 (1) (b) of the Federal Constitution to be amended to increase the number of Deputy Speakers from the current two to three.
The motion on the election of the Deputy Speaker was originally listed in the Order Paper of the ongoing First Meeting of the Fourth Session of the 14th Parliament, following the resignation of Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said as the Deputy Speaker on Aug 23.
However, Azalina raised eyebrows when she suddenly appeared to preside over the Dewan Rakyat sitting during the debate on the motion of thanks for the royal address on Wednesday, by giving an explanation that she was actually asked by Azhar to do so in accordance with Standing Order 7 (3) of the Dewan Rakyat.
The current sitting of the Dewan Rakyat will take place for 17 days, until Oct 12.