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Monday, April 7, 2014

MPs expected to focus on MH370 and GST before House adjourns sine die

Published: Sunday April 6, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM 
Updated: Sunday April 6, 2014 MYT 8:24:02 AM

At the Dewan Rakyat last week

THE coming week will see lawmakers winding up debates for the final four days before the House adjourns sine die on Thursday after a month of proceedings.

It will also be a month since MPs were gripped by the news of MH370, and calls for an official inquiry over the incident are expected to be among the main fodder for opposition lawmakers, who claimed to have been left out of previous briefings on the incident given to Barisan Nasional MPs.

On Wednesday, Anthony Loke (DAP – Seremban) passed a letter to de facto minister in charge of parliamentary affairs, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, requesting for a briefing for opposition MPs on Tuesday.

Shahidan had stated that either a Royal Commission of Inquiry or Parliamentary Select Committee would be formed after the aircraft’s black box or flight data recorder was found.

However, lawmakers managed to put the MH370 issue aside during debates to focus on legislation, in particular the passing of the Supplementary Supply (2013) Bill 2014 to seek an additional RM2.392bil for 12 ministries, departments and agencies.

Also tabled in the Dewan for the first time were laws for the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) next April.

Khalid Samad (PAS – Shah Alam) drew flak from several Barisan backbenchers when he insisted that the GST was a three-tiered taxation system that would eventually see the rakyat paying three times more than the 6% tax rate pegged by the Government.

Among them was Datuk Wira Ahmad Hamzah (BN – Jasin) who made an emotional plea to opposition lawmakers “not to sin anymore” by manipulating the facts on the benefits that GST would bring.

Also announced in the Dewan was a reminder to the construction industry, in particular housing developers, on the amendments to the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966 that would come into force in June.

Deputy Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Halimah Mohd Sadique said errant developers would be blacklisted and slapped with stiffer penalties if they abandon housing projects.

Outside the Dewan, the bipartisan Public Accounts Committee (PAC) grilled Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd over the delays and cost overruns of KLIA2, which is scheduled for soft-opening on May 2.

The drama surrounding the project is expected to continue as the PAC is scheduled to call AirAsia’s founder and group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes on April 24 to hear his views.

On a lighter note, Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr James Dawos Mamit informed lawmakers that Malaysia would get to keep the offspring, if any, from the two giant pandas on loan from China.

The pair of endangered animals are expected to arrive in Malaysia on April 15.

Lawmakers are likely to continue the debate on MH370 and the GST tomorrow before the session adjourns.

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