Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Harun today rubbished suggestions that a new rule limiting the number of MPs in the house was designed to ensure victory for the government’s bloc ahead of the 2021 budget, saying he had made it clear that all MPs could participate in the voting process.
Azhar was commenting on reactions from some politicians over his announcement that only 80 MPs would be allowed to attend each sitting during the current session, which will run from 10am to 2pm from Nov 9 to Dec 15.
He had said 41 ruling MPs and 39 from the opposition would be allowed to attend at any one time.
The move was based on the advice of the health ministry and the National Security Council, who are spearheading efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Azhar said it was a “blatant lie” to claim that the move was to outnumber the opposition during voting, especially in view of the much-awaited 2021 Budget.
“It is a blatant lie and they are designed to bring Parliament into disrepute,” he told MalaysiaNow, when asked about a claim by a pro-opposition blogger that the move was designed to ensure the government could easily pass bills by a margin of one vote.
Azhar, in announcing the move, had said that all MPs would still be allowed to attend Dewan Rakyat with ample notice before voting.
“I have said it very, very clearly in my announcement that in division voting, the bell will be sounded twice for a duration of two minutes each,” he said.
He said MPs would have a total of 14 minutes to make themselves available for voting.
“The bell will be rung for two minutes. Then we wait for 10 minutes. After that the bell will be rung for another two minutes.
“Everyone is allowed to come to the Dewan,” Azhar added.
Meanwhile, Takiyuddin Hassan, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department who is also tasked with parliamentary affairs, said the government MPs who are allowed to attend Dewan Rakyat would consist of 15 ministers.
Takiyuddin also said that no MP would be stopped from voting on the budget.
“So there’s no question of the government being biased,” he told MalaysiaNow.
The 2021 budget will be tabled tomorrow on the back of reminders from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for MPs across the divide to come together to ensure financial allocations for frontliners and other sectors affected by the Covid-19 crisis.