SEVERAL opposition MPs have defended their absence from the Dewan Rakyat during the minister’s question time (MQT) session this morning.
A Sinar Harian report quoted Bukit Gantang MP Datuk Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal as saying that many opposition MPs were at the “Gerakan Selamatkan Syariah” – Malay for the “Save Shariah Movement” – protest outside the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya.
The Palace of Justice was where the Federal Court was hearing a constitutional challenge to certain sections of the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Court.
“We have always attended [parliament sessions] although we were at the Palace of Justice this morning to support and defend the shariah courts but we have been accused of playing truant…actually we are not,” Syed Abu Hussin said in Parliament earlier today (Nov 20).
He said this during the debate on the Supply Bill 2024 (Budget 2024) at the committee level for the Health Ministry.
Pasir Mas MP Ahmad Fadhli Shaari, meanwhile, stood up to question if the absence of other MPs who are federal ministers can also be considered as “ponteng” (playing truant).
“Can it be said, then, that ministers who are absent – with the exception of the Health Minister – [in this morning’s debate session] are playing truant as well?”
“Pasir Mas (Ahmad Fadhli), maybe the ministers are busy distributing allocations,” Syed Abu Hussin said in response.
It was reported earlier this morning that the august house had descended into chaos yet again after not a single opposition MP was present during the MQT session.
The issue was raised by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul, who noticed that the opposition bloc seats were empty during Sungai Buloh MP Datuk R. Ramanan’s turn to pose his questions.
Johari then opened the floor to the government MPs to ask supplementary questions to ministers.
Following this, Tampin MP Datuk Mohd Isam Mohd Isa stood up to criticise the opposition for being absent.
“[It is] not that ‘many’ of them are absent, but all of them are absent. This is the opposition’s behaviour,” he remarked.
Johari then urged Isam to calm down, stressing that he would address the matter without amplifying it. “Don’t worry about [the absence], just let the Speaker handle it,” he added. – Nov 20, 2023
Main pic credit: Bernama