A lot of Bills expected

PETALING JAYA: Several crucial legislations and motions are expected to be tabled when Parliament meets tomorrow.

This is because a total of eight days have been reserved for “government matters,” longer compared with the days allocated during previous Dewan Rakyat meetings.

Dr Tunku Mohar Tunku Mohd Mokhtar of the International Islamic University Malaysia described the additional number of days allotted for government matters as a “good sign.”

“It means more time for healthy parliamentary debates. The allocation of extra days suggests that several Bills will likely be tabled for debates during this coming meeting.

“If the citizenship Bill is ready to be presented, it would be one of the significant legislations to be debated,” he said when contacted on the matter.

Political analyst Prof Datuk Dr Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia was surprised at the eight days given for government matters.

“The government may use the extra time to introduce new Bills for their first reading.

“Besides the citizenship Bill, the government may even want to table a motion on the Review of the Public Service Remuneration System (SSPA), which is also an important issue,” he said.

In a Facebook post on Jan 20, the Public Service Department (PSD) said an interim report on the SSPA was submitted to the Prime Minister by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali and PSD director-general Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Dahlan Abdul Aziz.

Meanwhile, all eyes will be on His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia, when he opens the first meeting of the Third Session of the 15th Parliament tomorrow.

It will be the very first time that His Majesty addresses the august House and the nation since ascending the throne on Feb 1. It will be broadcast live at 10am through official broadcasts and online platforms.

His Majesty is likely to deliver a very clear message to MPs to uphold their oath as trustees of the voice of the rakyat.

This can be gleaned from an Instagram post by His Majesty last November prior to his ascension to the throne.

His Majesty stated that his priority will be for the wellbeing of the 33 million Malaysians and “not the 222 Members of Parliament.”

His Majesty also emphasised the need to strengthen cohesion among the people in light of the “virus of division” stemming from political leaders who were willing to sow division in pursuit of power and personal interests.

The remarks by Sultan Ibrahim were made during his royal address at the investiture ceremony in conjunction with his 65th birthday at the Throne Hall of Istana Besar in Johor Baru last November.

The Dewan Rakyat will sit for a total of 19 days from Feb 26 to March 27, of which the last eight days have been set aside for government matters.

Based on past Dewan Rakyat meetings, between two and four days were usually set aside to debate Bills or specific motions that are tabled.

Among the other crucial Bills that are likely to be slated for debate is the second reading of the Environmental Quality (Amendment) Bill 2023.

The Bill, which was tabled last November for its first reading, will see increases in penalties for offences including water, soil, atmosphere and noise pollution.

Particularly noteworthy is the mandatory maximum jail term of five years and a fine of between RM50,000 and RM10mil for inland water pollution, a significant increase from the current RM100,000 fine.

On Feb 21, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said that the proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution on citizenship would be presented to the Cabinet on March 8.

He said it would be decided if the Bill would be tabled in the coming Dewan Rakyat meeting or be postponed pending a review.

On Thursday, several matters including the proposed Police (Amendment) Bill 2023 and the Constitution (Amendment) Bill regarding citizenship were discussed at the 265th Meeting of the Conference of Rulers at Istana Negara.

Last November, Saifuddin Nasution faced pushback from groups who were unhappy with the proposed amendments.

Although the amendments would resolve the issue of citizenship of children born to Malaysian mothers abroad, civil rights groups said that the changes would create a larger class of stateless children.

DAP’s Ipoh Timor MP Howard Lee had previously warned that he and several government MPs might not vote in favour of the amendments if the Bill was tabled in haste.

On the possibility of the Opposition presenting a motion of no-confidence against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, both Tunku Mohar and Sivamurugan said that it was unlikely to happen.

“What would be interesting to see is if the six Bersatu MPs who pledged their support for Anwar will vote in favour of the government.

“If a roll-call vote is made, their loyalties will be clearer. As of now, this has not yet been tested,” Tunku Mohar said.

Prof Sivamurugan said despite previous talk of a motion of no-confidence against Anwar surfacing a few months ago, it is unlikely to happen following six Bersatu MPs declaring their support for the Prime Minister.

He noted that Anwar currently commands the support of 152 MPs, which is more than the 148 two-thirds majority in the 222-member House.

“I think the Opposition realises that there will be no point to push for a test of confidence against Anwar,” he said.

Rather, he said PAS MPs, who make up the majority in the Perikatan Nasional side, will call for constitutional amendments to be made to uphold the position of syariah courts following the recent landmark decision by the Federal Court.

“The Opposition will want to use Parliament as a platform to raise the issue to gain support from their supporters,” he added.

Currently, PAS has 43 MPs while Bersatu has 25 MPs.

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