PETALING JAYA: A former minister has described the special Dewan Rakyat sitting as farcical and a mockery of democracy.
“It just shows how little respect Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration has for Parliament and parliamentary democracy,” said Zaid Ibrahim, who was law minister before he resigned from the Cabinet in 2008. He left Umno soon afterwards.
In countries that inherit the Westminster style of democracy, Zaid said, parliamentary sittings were supposed to be marked by intelligent and robust debates, with the prime minister actively engaging and answering questions.
“But on Monday, after months of Parliament being suspended, Muhyiddin gave a briefing in which he repeated things we’ve heard before and disappeared before any MP had a chance to ask him any question.
“This includes the all-important question of whether the King had consented to the revocation of the emergency ordinances (EOs).”
Zaid said Muhyiddin’s disappearance from the Dewan Rakyat sitting after a break in proceedings was the “height of irresponsibility”.
“In the end, it is the unelected finance minister who had to grapple for answers. It’s a dark day for Malaysia when the prime minister demonstrates a lack of respect for Parliament.”
He said people were now asking what was the point of the special sitting when answers to important questions were not given.
“Clearly, the government is not prepared for debate, let alone for a vote. This isn’t just a waste of time; it raises questions about the government’s legitimacy.”
Zaid also spoke of being disappointed with Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Harun’s conduct, saying it was unbecoming of someone who was known to fight for democracy, good governance and the rule of law.
“Even if he cannot find it in himself to be impartial, he should at least show some professionalism. He should have instructed the prime minister to answer questions, especially on the revocation of the EOs.”
He said it was no wonder that Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh asked if Azhar was a “government lapdog” and former minister Rafidah Aziz described the sitting as a “new low” in parliamentary democracy.
He urged Umno to take heed of the situation and demand that its members quit the Cabinet.
The party’s continued connection to the government would cost it the next general election, he said.
“How much longer will these ministers stick with the government and defend this PM? Umno must realise that as long as it has representatives in the government, it cannot say it is not a party to what is happening today.”
PETALING JAYA: Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has brushed off claims that Umno leaders who held no ministerial post only knew how to complain and criticise, after the party was panned for only voicing their grouses on social media.
The Umno president said that the party, especially its leaders, put forward many ideas and suggestions in the past.
“However, a majority of them were not entertained even though the proposals would have benefited the people and the nation,” he said in a Facebook post.
Yesterday, MUDA’s Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman took a swipe at Umno for failing to criticise the government in Parliament despite being critical of the Perikatan Nasional-led (PN) administration in recent months, especially on social media.
The Muar MP’s stinging attack was believed to have been aimed at the likes of former prime minister Najib Razak and party secretary-general Ahmad Maslan, among others.
“They (Umno MPs) say on social media that the government has failed, but in the Dewan Rakyat they are quiet, they leave,” the former minister was reported as saying.
Zahid went on to say that Ahmad, who is the Pontian MP, had presented over 25 ideas from the party at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
“These are good ideas for the government and to help the country overcome the Covid-19 pandemic effectively.”
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