Chong gets his way to have debate sessions extended
DEBATE sessions for this State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting will be extended beyond 6.30pm to ensure that members in the august house have equal opportunity to present their speech on the Yang di-Pertua Negeri’s address.
DUN speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar made this ruling following Chong Chieng Jen’s (DAP-Kota Sentosa) call for the debate session to be extended to four days because there were now more members of the august house.
Chong had pointed out that the two days set aside for debates was insufficient which would deprive members the opportunity to participate in the debates.
“If we go by the convention of past practices in this august house, there were three days for debate in the last term. But there were only 42 backbenchers then including the opposition. Now we have increased the number from 42 backbenchers to 53 backbenchers,” he said at the 18th DUN sitting at the DUN Complex here yesterday.
According to him, in order to allocate more time to backbenchers to participate in the debate of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri’s address, there should be more days set aside for the debate.
“However, given the fact that this is the month of Ramadan, it will not be appropriate to lengthen the sitting days into ‘buka puasa’ (breaking of fast) time. That I understand. But at least, the number of days allocated or set aside for debates by backbenchers should be increased to four days.”
He also recalled that Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud had called upon all elected members to participate in debates on issues mentioned in his address on Wednesday.
“How are we going to have full opportunity to debate when the days set aside for debates is only two days? You are in a way depriving members the time to participate in the debate,” he exclaimed.
Chong, who is also state DAP chairman, thus suggested that under Standing Order 8, the Chief Minister still has the discretion to vary the days of the meeting of the august house.
“Although it has been set that this meeting shall last until June 15, it can be extended to June 17 and I call upon the Chief Minister to exercise his power to lengthen the time of the meeting so as to be in tandem with what is said in TYT’s address.
“Do not deprive us of the time and days for backbenchers including the opposition to debate and raise issues in this august house,” he stressed.
This led Asfia to note that Chong had made his point and he therefore ruled that the dates for debates today (June 10) and on June 13 will be extended beyond 6.30pm.
“Normally, our sittings last until 6.30pm. We can extend on Friday (today) and Monday (June 13) beyond 6.30pm. But we shall not do what is done in the Parliament sitting where you go until 2am because my interpretation is that is already another day.
“As it is, without the Chief Minister varying the date, our sittings will go beyond 6.30pm on Friday and Monday,” he ruled which led Chong to immediately exclaim that this was the fasting month.
Asfia nonchalantly replied: “I am the one who ‘puasa’ (fast), not you. So don’t worry.”