Where is the Speaker’s independence? He merely followed the BN script!

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Padikar Amin
Pandikar Amin - Photo credit: galeriusbo at flickr.com

What happens after this sandiwara, asks P Ramakrishnan. Has Najib given BN component party leader an ironclad promise that hudud would not be implemented in Malaysia?

The notion that the speaker of Parliament was independent and not beholden to anybody was shattered beyond any repair on 6 April 2017, the last day of the parliamentary session.

On this day, the speaker lost his credibility completely. His conduct shocked thinking Malaysians and angered concerned members of Parliament.

Why on earth did he allow Pas president Abdul Hadi Awang to table his motion and permit Kota Baru MP Takiyuddin Hassan to support it?

Then, all of a sudden, inexplicably, he called off the debate on this bill and adjourned the parliamentary sitting in a move that baffled parliamentarians who had come prepared to debate the bill.

What was his reason?

The speaker explained his alarming conduct that the Dewan Rakyat was on a marathon session for almost 20 hours the day before, with the session ending at 5.05am on Thursday, setting a new record as the longest parliamentary session.

As a result, some of the parliamentary staff had to sleep in the office (to continue the next day), and he himself was deprived of sleep, Pandikar said. This was the reason, he, as the speaker, decided to end the final day’s session earlier than usual, he added.

His reasoning was unconvincing and totally absurd. It contradicted facts and did him no credit.

After a gruelling all-night session, common sense would dictate that the bill should have been deferred to the next sitting of Parliament. What was the urgency in allowing the bill to be tabled without it being debated? It didn’t make sense.

After the Barisan Nasional supreme council meeting on 30 March 2017, it was announced that the BN would not move RUU355 and that it was up to the speaker to decide whether this bill would be tabled by Hadi.

This is not true. Hadi does not have this authority. It is the BN minister who ultimately decides the items on the order paper.

Hadi’s bill appeared way down at the bottom as No. 13. Going by the normal process, it would not have seen the light of day during this session because government matters always enjoyed precedence over a private member’s bill.

But this was made possible by the connivance of Umno. To facilitate Hadi to table his bill, four remaining government bills were withdrawn from the order paper – thus paving the way for Hadi’s Bill to appear as number one and become the only bill to be debated on the last day of the parliamentary sitting.

This was unheard of for a private member’s bill from the Opposition. The normal strategy of the BN would be to drag on with its bills so that there would be no time to debate a private member’s bill. This was how private member’s bills were killed. But in this case, the BN went out of its way to ensure that Hadi’s bill would be tabled.

That is how this episode was made possible. It was a planned strategy to convey the impression that Umno was not opposed to Hadi’s bill. The Muslim voters were made to feel that Umno was cooperating with Pas to implement hudud laws.

Proudly claiming that he was no “bloody fool”, the speaker, in trying to impress that he could wield his powers, abruptly adjourned the parliamentary session without the much-expected debate on Hadi’s bill taking place.

But nobody was fooled by this show of bravado. The truth was something else. It was the MIC president who let the cat out of the bag!

MIC president Dr S Subramaniam claimed that the decision to postpone the debate was made during the previous BN supreme council meeting in March. “The decision was to allow Pas to present their case and there was agreement that there won’t be voting today. So as far as that is concerned, we followed the decision of the BN council,” he said.

In other words, the Speaker clearly appeared to be part of the BN ‘sandiwara’ and followed the BN script strictly. He came across as part of the plot.

We must seriously pose this question to Dr Subramaniam and the rest of the leaders of the BN component parties who acted in cahoots with Umno in this matter: “What happens after this ‘sandiwara’? What would be the fate of Hadi’s bill?

Were they told by the president of BN and Umno that the elections will be held before Hadi’s bill comes up for debate so that it won’t be passed by Parliament before GE14?

What happens after GE14? Has Umno given its BN partners any undertaking that it would betray Pas after the elections?

Dr Subramaniam must tell Malaysians that he has been assured by Najib that RUU355 would not be passed by Parliament. Has he given them an ironclad promise that hudud would not be implemented in Malaysia?

Malaysians need honest answers. Dr Subramaniam and the rest of the leaders of the BN component partners must declare publicly what the ultimate outcome of Hadi’s bill would be. We would like to remind them of this saying, “Hurt me with the truth but, never comfort me with a lie.”

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P Ramakrishnan
P Ramakrishan, the long-serving former president of Aliran who served three and a half decades on our executive committee, has been with Aliran since its inception in 1977. Now an ordinary Aliran member, he continues to highlight issues of public interest to a larger audience.

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