KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 9 —  Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun today said that nowhere in the Federal Constitution states that all 222 MPs have to be present in Parliament during a debate session. 

In a heated exchange in Parliament this morning, Azhar said the Federal Constitution does not mention that he has to listen to all 222 MPs during a debate session citing that the quorum of the meeting was only 26 MPs. 

“The MP raised Article 96 and 97 of the Federal Constitution. Article 96 and 97 doesn’t say all 222 MPs have to be in Parliament at all times,” Azhar told the Dewan Rakyat. 

According to Azhar, Article 96 mentions: ‘no taxation unless authorise by law’ and Article 97 concerns consolidated fund that is under the purview of the Finance Minister. 


“Where is it? Don’t have. Where does it say in the Federal Constitution that at all times I have to listen to all 222 MPs in the Dewan?

“The quorum is 26. (That’s the) Standing Order and we have 80 MPs,” he justified. 

Azhar said his decision was final and that the matter should not be revisited. 


In his defence, Azhar said he was not trying to block MPs from debating, as all those chosen by party whips can debate at any time. 

“And if you look at it, during the daily sittings, not all 222 MPs are in the Dewan. 

“Those who come daily are about 100 to 120 MPs and even among the 120, not all of them stay put from 10am to 5.30pm, they walk in and out (of the Dewan). 

“In fact, on some days, at 2.30pm, it’s even hard to fulfill quorum,” he said. 

He also questioned why the limitation to 80 MPs ruling has suddenly become an issue among the MPs. 

“Why when we reached a consensus that agreed to 80 MPs, suddenly this became a huge issue? Why?

“See, we have wasted time, arguing over this again. This has been decided based on consensus. Let us come together to repay what the Health director-general has done and sacrifice for all of us as he is combating the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Let’s debate the Budget 2021 Bill,” he said. 

Earlier PKR Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim claimed that the decision to allow only 80 MPs in Parliament was against Article 96 and 97 of the Federal Constitution and was depriving the MPs’ rights from debating fairly in Parliament. 

He added that the decisions made between the Dewan Rakyat Speaker, National Security Council (NSC), Health Ministry, Parliament Administration and party chief whips should not supercede the Federal Constitution. 

Last week, Azhar had announced some changes on the order of debate sessions that would take effect starting November 9 in light of the country’s Covid-19 situation. 

Among the changes agreed during a special meeting between the NSC, Health Ministry and Parliament administrative department and party chief whips, was to allow only 80 MPs (chosen by respective party chief whips) present in Parliament during the Budget 2021 Bill debate session.

However, the decision also said that during the voting process, all 222 MPs are allowed in Parliament. 

This decision has raised concerns, particularly among the Opposition bloc that this could limit their opportunity to debate fairly on the Budget 2021 Bill.