Opposition MPs stage walkout

PARLIAMENT, June 30 — The entire Opposition bloc walked out today in protest against the Speaker’s decision to allow Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to make a ministerial statement in support of the report of the Mid-Term Review of the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

The 80-odd Pakatan Rakyat MPs from the PKR, PAS and DAP staged the walkout to show their displeasure at the “reckless disregard of parliamentary practices, procedures and rules”.

Despite strong opposition protests, Najib was allowed to make the ministerial statement.

In his blog, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang (Ipoh Timur) said Najib should have made the statement when he seconded the motion of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on the Ninth Malaysia Plan Mid-Term Review in the Dewan Rakyat last Thursday.

“For reasons best known to Najib, the Deputy Prime Minister did not say anything when he stood up to second the Prime Minister’s speech.

“Having missed the opportunity to present his views on the Ninth Malaysia Plan Mid-Term Review when seconding the Prime Minister’s motion, Najib is trying to have a second bite of the cherry by giving a Ministerial statement on the Mid-Term Review, through a gross abuse of the parliamentary standing orders,” said Lim.

The veteran opposition politicians claimed that the Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia ’s decision Najib had set a dangerous precedent that government frontbenchers could abuse the standing orders at their whim and fancy.

“The purpose of a ministerial statement is not to allow a minister to have a second bite of the cherry when he missed the opportunity to give a speech when seconding the Prime Minister’s motion last Thursday but to state the government position on various policies, proposals or developments,” said Lim.

He said substantive motions would be submitted to review the Speaker’s decision.

During the parliamentary proceedings, Pandikar Amin said he was allowing Najib to address the House as the Standing Orders provided for him to exercise his discretion.

Mahfuz Omar (PAS-Pokok Sena) then asked whether this was an admission by the government that that Abdullah had made an error when tabling the Mid-Term Review last Thursday.

“Are you saying that the PM’s speech was incomplete?” he asked.

Pandikar Amin refused to take the bait, saying that Najib was merely clarifying some points and speaking in support of the review.

However, each time the Speaker asked Najib to start speaking, the Opposition would interrupt.

Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) said if anyone should be allowed to make the statement it should be the Prime Minister, quoting from House of Commons convention and practice.

The Speaker retorted that he was using his discretion and allowing Najib the floor time.

Annoyed with Pandikar Amin’s refusal to hear them, the opposition bloc then walked out in protest.

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