Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dewan Rakyat Passes Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2007. Sixteen Opposition MPs Stage Walkout

With the government adamant in bulldozing this bill through Parliament while the rest of the political spectrum remained suspicious of the move, it was only a matter of time before something gave.

Despite the repeated reminders and appeals of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) not to proceed with the bill until the current EC chairman, the hugely unpopular Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman retires, the calls fell on deaf ears. The coalition termed the move as a 'back-door' extension for the EC chairman as this bill would in effect enable him to oversea the next election.

The attempt by Bersih to hand over a memo at Parliament House resulted in the arrests of around twenty-nine persons which included PAS leaders Mustapha Ali, Dr. Hatta Ramli and committee member Dr Lo’Lo Ghazali, Parti Keadilan Rakyat secretary-general Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and Information chief Tian Chua, Parti Sosialis Malaysia protem chairman Dr. Nasir Hashim and secretary-general S. Arutchelva, as well as activists from the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) including Suaram executive director Yap Swee Seng, Centre for Independent Journalism executive director V Gayathry, Pusat Komas programme director Mien Lor, Writers Alliance for Media Independence chairperson Wong Chin Huat, PAS Research Centre director Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad and Harakah advertising manager Mokhtar Rosaidi.

(The IGP has announced that of the 29 people detained, 17 have been freed on bail, 8 issued summonses while 4 had their documents recorded)

As a result of the government's determination to retain the current EC chairman come what may, as well as the short shrift given to Bersih and their supporters including the unwarranted arrest of a score and more of their numbers, the sixteen opposition Members of Parliament present at the august House staged a walkout, the only viable option available to them. Three other opposition MPs -- Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (PKR-Permatang Pauh), Ismail Noh (PAS-Pasir Mas) and Abdul Fatah Harun (PAS-Rantau Panjang) -- did not attend the proceedings in the afternoon.

Totally unconcerned with the absence of the small opposition and moving as swiftly as they could, the ruling Barisan Nasional MPs voted unanimously in the Dewan Rakyat and enabled the passage of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill extending the retirement age from 65 to 66 years.

How fair the move is and how credible will be the office of the EC chairman would be debated long after the hoo-haa dies down.

Describing the action at the Dewan as the 'blackest day for Malaysia's Parliament in 50 years since independence' was opposition leader Lim Kit Siang. I'm sure many Malaysians too share his opinion.

And today the BN MPs of the Dewan Rakyat at last had their way. Leading the government onslaught was of course the ever controversial Nazri Abdul Aziz who tabled the bill on behalf of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. The amendment was passed through block voting, in which 189 MPs from the Barisan Nasional cast their votes during the second and third reading of the bill.

He said the amendment was in accordance with the extension of the retirement age, from 65 to 66, of the judges of the High Court, Court of Appeal and Federal Court in 2005.

The EC comprises a chairman, a deputy chairman and five ordinary members appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong after consultation with the Conference of Rulers.

The Dewan Rakyat adjourned at 4.30pm, one hour earlier than scheduled, soon after the bill was passed. It will sit again tomorrow, at 10am.

What a sad state of affairs.
Image - Source

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not extend the retirement age of Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman from 65 to 99 years? Then he could have an extra 34 more years to tweak the results of many more elections

8:20 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rejoiced when our AAB first became PM. Today, I have lost all respect for him. I am not a young man given to emotions so my simple statement illustrates how completely I feel let down by this 'person' who came into power with such high expectations from the people. Of all the PM's to date, he will be remembered as the great failure .

10:06 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give the BN government enough rope & they will surely hang themselves. They've engineered their own downfall.

Vote BN out!


9:15 AM GMT+8  
Blogger walski69 said...

If not mistaken (and please correct me if I am), in other Commonwealth Parliaments, a walk-out such as yesteday's would've created a situation where the bill could not have been voted on.

But nooo... not in our legislature. Which is why, over the years, the Malaysian Parliament has progressively degenerated to become the world's biggest rubberstamp...

What a damn sham... I mean, shame...

5:45 PM GMT+8  

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