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Monday, April 14, 2014

Dewan Rakyat adjourns on high note

Publication: NST
Date of publication: Apr 12, 2014
Section heading: Main Section
Page number: 019
Byline / Author: By Hana Naz Harun

KUALA LUMPUR: THE Dewan Rakyat adjourned sine die on Thursday, after sitting for 20 days beginning March 10.

The House began its first meeting of the second session in a sombre mood, observing a moment of silence for the passengers and crew on board the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also tabled a special motion to express sadness, sorrow and grief over the incident and recorded condolences to all the families and friends of those aboard the flight.

Despite the sombre start, the sitting proved fruitful as four bills - the Judges Remuneration (Amendment) Bill 2013, the Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons (Amendment) Bill 2013, the Supplementary Supply (2013) Bill 2014 and the heavily debated Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill 2014 - were approved.

The GST Bill was tabled on March 30 for the first time in six months after its announcement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak during the 2014 Budget.

After immense discussions and arguments, the GST bill was passed through two bloc division votes on Monday.

In the first bloc voting, 118 members of parliament voted in support and 81 voted against. The opposition requested for another bloc vote after no debate was held at the committee stage.

While votes were tallied, Pakatan MPs rolled out black Anti-GST banners, causing a commotion from the other side of the bench and amusing others, including Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, who took pictures of the scene. The bill was passed after a final head count of 119 versus 81.

Throughout the final two weeks of the sitting, opposition MPs (Gelang Patah's Lim Kit Siang, in particular) were adamant about a "special MH370 briefing", and calling for press conferences time and again over the same issue.

Almost every evening, Arau MP and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim would speak out against the idea, and on Wednesday told the opposition once again not to take the opportunity to politicise the incident.

"The government has nothing to hide. He (Lim) politicises anything that we say," Shahidan reiterated.

The final day proved to be the most entertaining for journalists, with the ejection of two Pakatan lawmakers.

Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak) was pressing for his motion on the conduct of three Court of Appeal judges in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy acquittal to be debated. A heated argument between Azmin and Pandikar ensued after the latter disregarded his request, causing a commotion in the House.

Hanipa Maidin (Pas-Sepang), who tried to raise another issue in the midst of the clamour, also got booted out, resulting in Pakatan MPs staging a walkout.

As the sitting continued after lunch, the two were allowed back into the House, with Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) saying: "Kalau begitu, kita telefon dia masuk (If so, let's give them a call)."

The highlight of the day - at least for Bung Mokhtar - was Teresa Kok's (DAP-Seputeh) red ensemble. He said Kok did not adhere to Parliament's dress code and asked Deputy Speaker Datuk Ismail Mohamed Said to reprimand her and argued that what she was wearing was "inappropriate".

Barely tickled at his statement, Kok then asked, "What is wrong with what I'm wearing?"

Later that day, Kok, in her blog posting said she asked photographers to take her picture. "Tengok!! Apa salahnya baju saya? Tak cantik ke? (Look! What is wrong with my outfit? Not pretty, is it?)," she asked.

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