KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat will sit again this Monday in which Cabinet Ministers are expected to face their first ‘test’ in the August House this year.
This is because the first meeting, Third Session of the 14th Parliament that sat on May 18 for just a day featured only the Royal Address by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced the government to implement the Movement Control Order (MCO) on March 18.
The meeting this time around, however, is speculated to be a heated one over a motion for Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof and his deputy, Nga Kor Ming to vacate their positions on grounds there are other names to be nominated.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is expected to also move a motion to appoint former Election Commission (EC) chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun and Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said to replace Ariff and Nga respectively, this to be done according to Order 4(1) of the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat.
Azhar resigned as EC Chairman effective June 29.
Opposition MPs, however, are against the move to replace Ariff and Nga.
Now that Perikatan Nasional (PN) has taken over the government, all eyes will also be on the MP seating arrangements, especially among the Opposition and the Independent Block.
This after former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s recent announcement that he and five other MPs will be an independent bloc inside and outside of Parliament together with Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan).
However, to date, there has been no official notice of their seating arrangements, including on the Parliament’s official website, except for a notice for MPs to be seated one metre apart from each other as required by standard operating procedures (SOPs) of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO).
According to its schedule, this second meeting that will sit for 25 days until Aug 27 will focus on the motion of thanks to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the debate on the Royal Address as well as replies by ministers for four weeks.
The motion of thanks to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the debate on the Royal Address, by convention, take place during the first meeting.
The following weeks of the second meeting will see the tabling and debate of bills.
Among the bills expected to be tabled is the Covid-19 Temporary Measures Bill to minimise the economic, social and industrial impact of Covid-19.
Amendments to the Road Transport Act 1987 involving those driving under the influence are also expected to be tabled, this after a rise in fatalities caused by drink-driving.
Two important finance-related bills also expected to be presented are the Supplementary Supply (2019) and (2020) bills.
Besides this, the motion to declare the appointment of the Opposition leader, the appointment of the select committee as well as the chairman and deputy chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) are among matters to be discussed.
The PN government had decided to continue with the practice of appointing an MP from the Opposition to head the PAC while the deputy will be a government backbencher.
The second meeting under PN rule will take place in the new normal with strict SOP compliance to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The Special Ministerial Meeting on the MCO prior to this spelt out the SOPs for the parliament meeting which includes the use of face masks and hand sanitisers as well as ensuring there is a one-metre seat gap while the meeting is in session.
Also, only MPs and officers can enter the meeting hall while newsmen and civil servants are only allowed to be in the Parliament building.