KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 — Barisan Nasional (BN) representatives staged a walkout of the lower House of Parliament today in a show of protest after Cameron Highlands MP Datuk C. Sivarraajh was barred from attending the ongoing sitting.
The biggest Opposition bloc in Parliament cried foul over Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Ariff Md Yusuf’s decision yesterday, pointing that the Election Court ruled last week to nullify Sivarraajh’s victory was not binding until the appeal has been exhausted.
Their pleas however fell on deaf ears as Ariff maintained his decision yesterday and said he must have a copy of the High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) decision last Friday.
“I will make my ruling on this matter on Monday. The position of the law is not clear. It is not straightforward and I need a little time to make a ruling.
“I’ve spoken to Cameron Highland’s lawyer and he is in touch with me,” Ariff said, referring to Sivarraajh by his constituency, just before the BN MPs walked out.
The Election Court ruling is binding when the appeals process has been exhausted and the Federal Court has ruled over the matter if there was an appeal by the defendant.
Several BN MPs were heard describing the Speaker’s decision as a “law of the jungle” as they walked out, but it was unclear who made those remarks.
Islamist party PAS also protested against Sivarraajh’s ban, but did not join the BN in the mass walkout.
During the protest, Opposition Leader and Umno president Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi cited Article 36 A (2) of the Election Offences Act to support his argument that Sivarraajh should be allowed to participate in Parliament.
“Section 36 C [states that] any suspension or stay order is not final until a decision has been made by the Federal Court. In this case, Cameron Highlands have a right to be in Parliament until the 14-day appeal is over.
“If an appeal is filed, the Member of Parliament is still eligible to attend the Dewan Rakyat proceedings until the Federal Court decides. The judge must in 14 days inform the Election Commission of their decision,” said Zahid.
Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin criticised Ariff, saying the latter’s decision will leave a “black mark” in the history of Parliament.
The former youth and sports minister demanded the Speaker reinstate Sivarraajh’s privileges as a member of the House and apologise.
“We are not debating his offences. We are debating the due processes of stripping Cameron Highlands from his privileges.
“Shame on you!” Khairy said, addressing Ariff.
Bera MP Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob also blasted Ariff, saying the latter had punished Sivarraajh despite lacking the authority to do so.
The matter was first brought up today by Kinatabatangan MP Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin who wanted to know when the Speaker was going to rule on the Sivarraajh issue.
During the chaos, Pakatan Harapan MPs defended Ariff’s decision, echoing the same argument Ariff had given yesterday.
In the Parliament lobby, Zahid told reporters that the BN would be back for the afternoon parliamentary sitting after 2.30pm.
The walkout happened just 10 minutes before the lunch break.
Zahid said BN MPs want the Speaker to retract his decision “because Sivarraajh is still an elected MP”.
“If there is a mistake, we will forgive but I also hope that this mistake does not set a precedent for the future,” he added.
Other BN MPs who stood in solidarity with Zahid were MCA president and Ayer Hitam MP Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong, Tapah MP Datuk Seri M. Saravanan, Pontian MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, Bera MP Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Pasir Salak MP Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman.