MARCH 31 — The First Meeting of the Third Session of the 15th Parliament — the first meeting for 2024 — was scheduled from February 6 — March 27, 2024.

March 27 (Wednesday) was accordingly the last day of the meeting. On that day, at 5.25 pm Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail stood up to table the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2024 for its second reading.

At 5.30 pm, the Minister was interrupted by Speaker Johari Abdul who informed the former that as time was up, he would be given an additional 15 minutes to wind up his speech.

Saifuddin duly obliged, winding his speech and moved for the Bill to be read a second time. After the motion was seconded by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reforms) Azalina Othman Said, the followings were recorded by the Hansard:

Advertisement

Tuan Yang di-Pertua: Ahli Yang Berhormat, masalah di hadapan Majlis ialah rang undang-undang bernama suatu akta untuk meminda Perlembagaan Persekutuan dibacakan kali yang kedua sekarang dan terbuka untuk dibahas. Baik, oleh kerana...

Datuk Seri Takiyuddin bin Hassan [Kota Bharu]: [Bangun] Hendak bahas.

Tuan Yang di-Pertua: Ya. Masa ya, Yang Berhormat. Saya ada cuma 15 minit sahaja. Saya akan baca ucapan penutup, selepas itu, minta maaf sebab saya terikat dengan ini. [Menunjukkan buku peraturan mesyuarat] Baik, saya hendak baca ucapan penutup saya.

Advertisement

Standing Order 12 reads as follows:

12. Sittings

(1) Each sitting of the House shall begin at 10.00 a.m. and continue until 1.00 p.m. and resume at 2.30 p.m. and continue until 5.30 p.m. or the earlier completion or deferment of business on the Order Paper:

Provided that a Minister may without notice move at any time a motion to be decided without amendment or debate to vary the time of sitting of the House.

(2) Subject to the foregoing provisions, Tuan Yang di-Pertua may at any time suspend the sitting for a stated time.

(3) Tuan Yang di-Pertua may extend the time of sitting after 5.30 p.m. or after such time as may be determined by the House for not more than fifteen minutes so as to complete the matter that ought to be completed on that day itself.

At the end of his speech, the Speaker adjourned the First Meeting of the Third Session of the 15th Parliament sine dine. It was 5.47 pm. It must be said that the adjournment was in accordance with Standing Order 12 above.

Perikatan Nasional (PN) has, however, taken issue with the adjournment. On Saturday (March 30), it alleged that Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s government was forced to postpone the debate of the Bill because it could not muster enough support, including from members of its coalition.

Takiyuddin Hassan, PN’s chief whip, suggested this was tantamount to a no-confidence vote against Anwar and called on the prime minister “to do the right thing”.

Takiyuddin suggested either Anwar resigns or calls for a vote to prove that he still commands the majority.

Had a Minister moved a motion to vary the time of sitting of the House, a debate of the Bill would ensue into the wee hours as had happened in the past.

That would be rushing the Bill.

It would be curious, to say the least, if Takiyuddin intended this since it was his colleagues in PN who had taken issue with the passing of the Jurisdictional Immunities of Foreign States Bill 2023 on March 19. On that day, the House broke into a shouting match when Ronald Kiandee claimed that Deputy Speaker Alice Lau had bulldozed the process of passing the Bill.

The Beluran MP said that he was ignored when he stood up before a voice vote was called.

“It is unfair, I wanted to raise Standing Order 54(1) and 54(2), we want to refer to this Bill, we support the Bill but there are some improvements, Clause 32 and Clause 33. I wanted to ask that this House refer the Bill to a select committee. We discuss it further.

“I stood up way earlier, you bulldozed the process here. I said 54(1) and 54 (2). Parliament secretary please advise the Speaker. Standing Order 54(2), you have to send the motion to the House — motion without notice. You bulldozed, let it be on record that you bulldozed the process,” Kiandee said.

I agree that law-making process should not be bulldozed and the law should not be rushed.

So, the adjournment of the House at the second reading of the Bill without it being debated — which was in accordance with Standing Order 12 — must be a blessing in disguise.

Even so, I wish that the Bill was committed or referred to a parliamentary select committee. It deserves the “distinguished treatment”.

**This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.