KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 — Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob agreed today with Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub that it is parliamentary practice for deputy ministers to reply questions on behalf of the government.
However, the two political leaders disagreed on the finer points, with Ismail telling reporters that it was not acceptable practice when the minister in the Parliament building.
“I was a minister, if you don’t want to answer any question, don’t come to the Dewan Rakyat. Let your deputy minister answer. There’s nothing wrong with that. But don’t go in and out of the House,” the Bera MP told reporters at the Parliament lobby after his Umno colleague, Pasir Salak MP Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, was ejected for being disruptive.
Ismail pointed out that Salahuddin had answered a question earlier during Question Time, but accused the minister of deliberately delegating his duty to his deputy when he did not want to answer a supplementary question.
“That means he does not respect MPs who are asking the question and also the House,” said Ismail who was commenting on the verbal fracas between Tajuddin and Deputy Speaker Nga Kor Ming.
The Umno vice-president said he was sympathetic towards Tajuddin, saying the latter was rightfully upset when his question went unanswered by Salahuddin and was ignored by Nga.
Salahuddin on the other hand, pointed out that it is normal and acceptable to allow his deputy Sim Tze Tzin to take questions on his behalf.
“There were two questions in one day and I allowed my deputy to answer one of the questions. That is a normal process. There was no issue that I was running away from the House. In a normal situation a minister should give his deputy the chance to reply in Parliament.
“That’s how we cooperate with each other. Even in the last session I had practised this procedure,” said Salahuddin.