KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 – The rebuttal by DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang that former prime minister and Pekan MP Datuk Seri Najib Razak was no longer relevant when giving his speech in the Dewan Rakyat in response to Najib calling out Pakatan MPs for being missing-in-action in parliament may have turned out to be a farce. This after Najib posting on Facebook of how Pakatan MPs went missing yet again during another session in parliament yesterday.
The Iskandar Puteri MP was responding to Najib posting a photo of himself addressing empty rows facing the Opposition bench on Tuesday.
He expressed his displeasure over the low turnout when it was his turn to debate the government’s mid-term review of the 11th Malaysian Plan.
Najib lamented in a Facebook post that he should just stick to the social media platform in future if ministers and their deputies did not wish to listen to him.
“Maybe these ministers have early lunch appointments. Maybe some of them are also forced to rest in the afternoon because they couldn’t get a good night’s sleep,” Najib said in the posting on Tuesday.
Not the only time government MPs absent
Unfortunately, the veteran MP from the oldest party in the Pakatan Harapan government turned it into an opportunity to become what he himself would have detested before and turned into an issue when he was part of the opposition bench in the past.
“There could not be a more eloquent photograph of how low Najib had fallen from the mighty position of the prime minister of the country and how irrelevant he is now to Malaysians,” Lim state in a statement, sarcastically thanking the former PM for showing to world how his words did not matter anymore.
“The sight of Najib speaking to a largely empty Dewan Rakyat demonstrates his fast-fading influence.”
However, some photos have shown the scene at the Dewan Rakyat later the same day as well as yesterday that the government bench was bare with many ministers, their deputies as well as backbenchers not present.
The main issue that needs to be addressed here is about MPs doing the work they were elected to do, be they part of the government or the opposition.
Maybe Lim should not allow himself to take cheap potshots at someone who had been elected by the people. Lim should learn to separate his emotions from that of his role as an MP and government backbencher.
Empty seats nothing new, says Muhyiddin
There is some respite though in the comments from Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who also responded to Najib’s photo when answering reporters on the issue at the Parliament lobby yesterday.
“Well, I do not see why the big fuss over this matter.
“As far as I know, the attending Parliament officers will dictate and record down those giving speeches in the Hansard,” he was quoted as saying by The Malay Mail.
He added that it was not rare nor anything new for such a scenario in the august house.
“I have been an MP for a long time. Sometimes, it is common to have a lone MP addressing an almost empty House,” he was quoted as saying.
The news portal also reported Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran as saying that with Parliament debates being broadcast “live”, lawmakers can follow them remotely.
“You do not necessarily need to be in Parliament to listen. Some of us are travelling throughout the country on official duty and it is accessible at any time we want,” he said.
Mr Parliamentary Reform was also MIA
PKR President Anwar Ibrahim who recently won the Port Dickson by-election was also missing. Anwar who gave excuse to hastily return to parliament in order to reform the Dewan Rakyat is on a trip to China.
Perhaps Anwar can view parliamentary sessions online and perform his parliamentary reform via Skype.
It is not known if Anwar’s visit to China is on his official capacity as an MP of Port Dickson or on unofficial capacity as PM in-waiting.
Pakatan absence in Dewan Rakyat a sign of them turning into Barisan 2.0?
Whilst Muhyiddin is right about empty house being nothing new, this goes against the idea of New Malaysia and smells very much like the Old Malaysia.
And despite the possibility of watching the broadcast live, Malaysian voters certainly did not vote for Pakatan on the 9th of May to see them watching from afar but to be there and represent the people.
The Rakyat can understand if cabinet ministers are absent, but what about everyone else in Pakatan?
It seems to NMT that virus Barisan Nasional are fast eating into the brains of Pakatan Harapan MPs that they now sound and act like Barisan Nasional 2.0. We hope that they will come to realize this sooner rather than later.