2017 First Parliamentary Session: Week 5
3rd April 2017, 10.55 a.m.: More Bills?!
Good morning from Parliament. This morning there are 4 new bills presented on our table. Hadi Awang’s 355 is now no.10 on the list. Tomorrow, it is expected to drop 4 places to no.14. The four new bills will get their first reading today at 11.30 am and then are expected to be slated for debate this week.
The highlight of the day is the Sexual Offences against Children bill 2017, which is slated for debate at 11.30 am and is expected to be passed around 5.30 pm.
4th April 2017, 11.30 a.m.: What do you Mean MORE Bills?!
Good morning from Parliament. Hadi Awang’s 355 bill is alive and may be sneaked in by UMNO today or tomorrow. In addition, the sitting has been extended to 10 pm tonight. Another batch of 5 new bills have just been added to our table this morning, so we have a mere 24 hours to prepare to debate these 5 new bills. This is totally bulls**t, springing laws on us last minute and expect us to debate. My research team is already stretched to the limit.
I am also due to speak on the illegal weapons trade, probably after lunch on the Strategic Trade Act 2010. I will also be debating on the Stamp Duty, either tonight or tomorrow. This is going to be another very long day.
4th April 2017, 10.10 p.m.: SOSMA and the Strategic Trade Bill
I just completed my speech on the Strategic Trade Bill. I asked the government to explain why they have failed to take real actions on so many famous illegal trade in weapons activities in Malaysia. What will be done about North Korea and the UMNO guy involved in the Glocom scandal?
Click here for the video of my speech.
SOSMA UPDATE 1:
The SOSMA debate is ongoing. Time is suspended until all the finance motions are completed. We could be here until midnight. The debates are heated with the Opposition MPs pointing out the government abuses the SOSMA laws to arrest non terrorists. We also pointed out that torture and humiliation of SOSMA detainees exist. The government is unrepentant and continues to ask for 28 days of detention without charge. We continue to ask for more check and balance in the system.
Now the most interesting about the ongoing debate is the fact that the hall is full of MPs from all parties, as we are going for a headcount vote. One glaring exception is the PAS MPs. Of the 14 PAS MPs only 2 PAS MPs are present. Their glaring absence is viewed as a nod to UMNO that PAS will abstain the SOSMA vote so to indirectly support UMNO BN on SOSMA. UMNO BN is then expected to return the favour to PAS on Thursday by allowing Hadi Awang to debate his 355 bill.
SOSMA UPDATE 2:
SOSMA 28 days detention extended for another 5 years.
5th April 2017, 10.05 a.m.: This is not How a Normal Parliament Works Now, is it?
Good morning from Parliament. Last night, the Dewan sat until 12.35 am. I took part in 5 debates, holding fort on the last four finance motions late last night. I got home at 1.00 a.m. then had 4 hours of sleep and arrived at Parliament at 8.30 am. I am feeling a bit worn out this morning but am still preparing notes on a few bills. We have a whopping 12 bills to pass between today and tomorrow. Tonight is expected to be another long sitting.
5th April 2017, 6.28 p.m.: The Private Higher Education Institutions Act
Lots happening today in Parliament. I took part in the Private Higher Education Institutions Act debate asking the Deputy Minister a simple but direct question; why does the Minister need discretionary powers to decide how much initial fund is required to start a private university. If the university is required by the minister to give a small initial fund say RM100,000 but collects RM1,000,000 in tuition fees from students and the university goes bankrupt, will the Minister underwrite the RM900,000 difference?
Other than myself, 4 other MPs posed questions to the Deputy Minister Mary Yap. To the full astonishment of the Dewan, Mary stood up and said she will give written reply to ALL the questions. She put in ZERO effort to engage us at the committee stage and then expect us to vote on a bill. This is so embarrassing and unheard of that I registered my strongest objections to the Speaker.
After some verbal jousting with the Speaker, where he first patiently listened to us and then threatened to throw us out, the Speaker relented to my final suggestion to put the written reply of the hapless Deputy Minister into Hansards. Mary Yap should do the honorable thing and resign as a minister.
On another point, I also took part in Self Employment Social Security bill. The bill seeks to force taxi, Uber and Grab drivers to contribute to EPF. This is a totally misguided bill.
Click here for the video.
5th April 2017, 11.50 p.m.: For the Night is Long and Full of Bills
It is now 11.50 pm and in an unprecedented ruling the government ask for the debate to be extended until another 5 bills are passed!
This will mean that the government is ramming through all the laws hoping to kill all debates by exhausting all of us into submission. If each bill takes 2 hours, we will be here for another 10 hours. That means MPs need not go home. It is one thing to ram laws through and only be given the laws 24 hours to read, but this is totally a new level of farce.
Its 1 am and I am now running the clock down by going through every clause of the bill with a fine tooth comb. If we have to debate here until the next morning then I want the BN MPs to also go through every legal definition and terminology hell with me. There are 60 BN MPs here and I wont let them go home without a long lecture on the finer points of the law.
Good news… Our strategy of legal hell has paid off. BN has decided to drop 4 bills and will now only debate 1 extra bill on tourism. It looks like we will be home around 3 am now.
This madness will continue tomorrow when the 355 bill is expected to be tabled.
I went home at 3 a.m., and had 3 hours of sleep.
8 MPs from our side stood until 5a.m., setting a new record for Parliament sitting. A concession was given by Tourism & Culture Minister Nazri, who conceded 4 bills and in return we passed 1.
Salute to the 8 Opposition MPs who stood for us so the rest of us could get a bit of sleep!
Hadi’s Bill is #1 on the order paper today. The Government looks like it’s going to screw us over. We expected UMNO BN to double speak.
6th April 2017, 11.55 a.m.: The Final Push?
PKR completed our pre-counsel meeting at 11am. It has been decided that YB Rafizi Ramli will speak first for our party and that we will reject Hadi’s bill.
The Hadi 355 bill will be tabled at 12.
The mood is Parliament is a mix of anxiety and tension. MPs are still walking in and taking their seats. Everyone is counting the attendance of Borneo MPs who are expected to say no to 355.
There is still a lot of confusion on what will happen in the next hour. Will other MPs be allowed to debate and will there be a vote? How many MPs from each side will be allowed to speak?
Proceedings for 355 starts.
Kit Siang stands and objects raising a standing order point on a matter regarding IPCMC. The Speaker rejects his objection.
Lee Boon Chye (PKR Gopeng) stands and ask the Speaker to explain why Hadi Awang is given priority over the businesses of government. The Speaker brushes his objection aside too.
Gobind stands to raise another point of order objection regarding the law suit filed by Tawfik Ismail against the bill, that allowing Hadi to speak today will be sub judice. Gobind points out that the Speaker had last year ruled that all 1MDB matters cannot be raised in Parliament because it is sub judice. The Speaker made his ruling that this is not sub judice. Malaysia boleh! 1MDB tak boleh but Hadi Awang boleh.
Gooi stands up for one last challenge under 49(2) and was refused by the Speaker.
Kit Siang then stands to raise an order of business objection and the house breaks into a shouting match. Kit Siang points out that MIC, MCA and Gerakan are part of BN government and they are responsible for this.
12.37 pm, the Speaker invites Hadi Awang to debate.
Hadi says that non muslims should not be worried about 355 because no non muslims have ever been sentenced by syariah in Malaysia. He says the bill is constitutional. He says he just wants to strengthen the syariah courts by increasing sentencing to 30 years jail, RM100,000 fines and 100 whips. UMNO MPs rap the table to support Hadi’s speech when he says this bill will strengthen Islam in Malaysia. He also warns non muslims not to interfere in Islamic matters. UMNO and PAS MPs are fully supporting Hadi.
Takiyuddin (PAS Kota Bharu) stands to support and his speech is cut short for lunch break.
We completed a 2nd pre counsel meeting. This time for the entire Pakatan Harapan. We coordinated the order of speeches and Rafizi Ramli will speak first, followed by Mujahid and then Gobind. Pakatan Harapan is completely and unanimously united.
We can’t say the say the same for BN. Will MCA, MIC and Gerakan say no?
2.02 pm, the Speaker walks in and instructs Takiyuddin continues his speech.
He gives a long meandering speech on the history of the 355 bill. Every now and then MPs from UMNO interject him to support his speech. The Speaker is happy to let him speak without any time limit. He has now crossed the one hour mark. I never thought I will see the day when UMNO MPs openly support PAS. Of course all the other BN members are remaining silent.
It’s now 4 pm. The Speaker gave Takiyuddin 1.5 hours to speak.
The Speaker makes an incredible ruling that we cannot reply to the debate started by PAS. The Speaker walks out to the derision of “Takut”. The matter is now left undecided. The 355 has not passed but is in limbo, yet again.
I cannot express in words how unfair the whole proceeding was. If UMNO and PAS are so adamant that this 355 is good for the country, why are they so afraid to even debate us.