Anwar pushes Speaker to loosen Dewan Rakyat’s 80-MP restriction

File picture shows Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim delivering his speech during the second meeting of the third session of the 14th Parliament in Kuala Lumpur July 13, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
File picture shows Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim delivering his speech during the second meeting of the third session of the 14th Parliament in Kuala Lumpur July 13, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PH-Port Dickson) has urged Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun to allow more than 80 MPs to enter the House to hear and participate in ministers’ winding-up speeches on Budget 2021.

Anwar also described the allotted time of only 20 minutes for each speech as unreasonable.

His comments come after the Speaker ruled that only 80 MPs are allowed inside the Dewan Rakyat at any one time and for only 20 minutes during ministers’ winding-up speeches for their ministries on Budget 2021.

“I believe I understand the role of Parliament, especially ministers’ speeches, debates and questions.

“This is the spirit that should be respected by Parliament,” he told Dewan Rakyat today.

Former health minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad (PH-Kuala Selangor) then chipped in to say that MPs undergo swab tests for Covid-19 regularly and the Parliament building is sanitised daily.

“I question why we should restrict ministers to only 20 minutes. This is not based on science.

“Let’s base our discussions on science and evidence,” he said.

Azhar retorted that he practises an open-door policy and actively engages with Opposition MPs, often requesting meetings with them, even if they do not always show up.

“I have said many times before that my door is open so we can discuss things.

“If you (the Opposition) seek a resolution but do not come to talk it over, it makes things difficult,” he said.

Azhar said that he will organise a meeting to discuss the matter later today but expressed his disappointment that Opposition MPs did not try to meet him first and only raised the issue today.

“I can even come to the office on Sunday. Everyone knows my WhatsApp number. I can even come for a meeting (with MPs) on Sunday night,” he said.

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