Friday, March 12, 2010

All eyes on Opposition Leader, Independents

The first meeting of the third term of the 12th Parliament, which will be opened by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin on Monday, is expected to draw special attention to the seating arrangement of Dewan Rakyat members if the post of Opposition Leader now held by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim switches hands.

Although his party, PKR, does not have a majority compared to other opposition parties after four of its representatives became independent, if Anwar still holds on to the Opposition Leader position, this would mean the post would be held by a leader who is not from a party that has the majority of seats.

As explained recently by Speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, Anwar can continue to be Opposition Leader if he gets the support of the majority of opposition MPs.

DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang have said they will not go for the position. Still, the position will be the centre of attraction when Parliament sits.

During this session, history will also be made as there is an increase in the number of Independent MP seats. This is so as four PKR members are Independent MPs.

Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim (Bayan Baru), Tan Tee Beng (Nibong Tebal)
and Mohsin Fadzli Samsuri (Bagan Serai) left the party due to differences with the PKR leadership while Zulkifli Noordin (Kulim-Bandar Baharu) was sacked by the party.

Based on the present situation, PKR has 27 seats, DAP 28 and PAS 23. Barisan Nasional as the ruling party has 137 seats and independents seven.

During this session, the stand and inclination of the independents will be of interest, whether they will lean towards the government or the opposition.

The Dewan Rakyat session is expected to see debates on new laws, including the Goods and Services Tax Bill 2009 that will be read for the second time.

Also to be brought to the session is the Credit Reporting Agencies Bill 2009, the ersonal Data Protection Bill 2009 and the Traditional and Complementary Medicine (TCM) Bill.

It cannot be determined if changes to the Internal Security Act (ISA) will be tabled this time.

Hoping for smooth proceeding

Deputy Speaker Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar did not discount the possibility that the sitting will be "hot" due to the current political developments. He expects the present crisis in PKR to be brought up in the House.

This time Puchong MP, Gobind Singh Deo (DAP), who was suspended for 12 months from Parliament since March 12 last year, will return to the House.

Wan Junaidi said from his experience in handling Dewan Rakyat proceedings for the last two years he was confident of handling any situation.

He hoped all matters, including debating the Bills, will proceed smoothly.

"We cannot run from uproar but I hope this will not interfere with the responsibilities of members," he said.

Dewan Rakyat secretary, Datuk Rosmee Hamzah, confirmed that the Speaker had approved the seating for the four Independent MPs in Block F near Datuk Ibrahim Ali.

"As of today, those are their seats," Rosmee said.

The seats for MPs are divided into nine blocks, that is Block A till Block I.

- Bernama

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