Parliament again set to freeze its clock tonight

Parliament proceedings are expected to run past midnight on Dec 3 to allow for the passage of three Bills on the final day of the last sitting of 2015. — File pic
Parliament proceedings are expected to run past midnight on Dec 3 to allow for the passage of three Bills on the final day of the last sitting of 2015. — File pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 — The Dewan Rakyat’s tendency for “stopping the clock” will continue tonight, with proceedings set to run past midnight to allow the passage of three Bills on the final day of the last sitting of the year.

MPs are currently debating the controversial National Security Council Bill 2015, which is expected to be voted through close to or after midnight.

Extended debate on the proposed security law that critics contend will set Malaysia towards authoritarianism means that two other Bills, the Armed Forces Fund (Amendment) Bill and the Employee’s Social Security Bill will only be tabled after.

The two amendments are to facilitate the provisions outlined in the Budget 2016, which was passed on Tuesday.

Parliament’s Standing Orders allow proceedings to extend until midnight, but the order of business must be completed and recorded under the same calendar day.

In order to comply, a motion must be tabled to “stop” the clock at midnight in order to allow proceedings that extend beyond then to be considered as coming under the same day.

The practice had been a rarity in past decades, but resurfaced again in 2012.

Since then, however, the clock has been stopped several more times, and already twice this year alone.

Time was frozen when the Dewan Rakyat voted on the Prevention of Terrorism (POTA) Bill, which passed without amendment at about 2.25am on April 7 after a debate of more than 12 hours.

The Bill was passed after the ninth block voting, with the final voting favouring the government when 79 MPs from Barisan Nasional (BN) supported the Bill while 64 MP from PR rejected it.

The Sedition (Amendment) Bill 2015 was also voted through after a record 14 hours of debate in the Dewan Rakyat during the same sitting.

In April, de facto law minister Nancy Shukri expressed plans for a parliamentary select committee and a Law Reform Commission to examine Bills prior to their tabling in Parliament, after the clock was repeatedly in order to rush through proposed laws.

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