Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun speaks during a Parliament sitting in Dewan Rakyat, Kuala Lumpur September 14, 2021. — Bernama pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 — Parliament has never been closed to MPs, including from the Opposition and can be accessed at “reasonable times”, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun said today.
He stressed that he had never barred any MP entry to Parliament last August 2 — it was the day Opposition MPs attempted a march but were met with a police blockade on Jalan Parlimen and later fined for breaching Covid-19 SOPs.
“Actually, Parliament is not closed, I instructed SUDR to say Parliament is open as I know MPs have left their things in the Dewan and office,” he said, referring to the secretary to the Dewan Rakyat by its Malay initials.
“The office should be accessible at a reasonable time,” he added.
Azhar said he had no knowledge about the police blockade a day after Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the Parliament sitting and its meetings will be postponed for two weeks starting July 29 in order to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 in Parliament.
“On how the road was closed, it was police action, why it was closed, I have no knowledge,” he said after RSN Rayer (Jelutong-PH) and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (Port Dickson-PH) raised the issue in the Dewan Rakyat.
The Opposition MPs then demanded an answer from Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin who was present at Parliament at that time.
Hamzah said the action was taken “to protect the Parliament and health of the MPs” and denied any wrongdoing by the police.
“Parliament has postponed its session. Hence the reason when the order not to be allowed to enter, the police took the power to order in accordance with the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342). So what’s our problem here?
“The problem is whether we want to hear in terms of the decision of Act 342 or not. To prevent things from happening that are more of a problem to the people, that is, for no one to gather where the police are doing something for the safety of all parties,” he said.
Hamzah explained that the penalty issued to Opposition MPs was for gathering at Dataran Merdeka on August 2.
However, he said he is in talks with Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to reduce the RM3,000 fine to the MPs who gathered on August 2 August, to “the same amount that was paid by other people”.
He denied discrimination against the MPs when it comes to meting out punishments for SOP violations.
Hamzah’s explanation however caused an outcry from the Opposition bench.
Several MPs, most vocally Datuk Mahfuz Omar (Pokok Sena-PH), questioned Hamzah about the gathering of ministers at the home of Pagoh MP Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who was at that time prime minister.
The furore lasted for about 20 minutes, delaying the Minister’s Question Time before being ended without resolution.
Public Accounts Committee chairman Wong Kah Woh (Ipoh Timur-PH) also said he was given permission to enter by the Parliament to conduct a PAC session but was also barred from the police or risk being arrested.
Azhar confirmed granting permission and said he is ready to meet the police if an investigation is called.
On August 2, Opposition MPs from Pakatan Harapan, Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda), Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang), Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan), Upko and Parti Sarawak Bersatu, as well as their supporters, were seen gathering as early at 9am at Dataran Merdeka and planning to march to Parliament.
The MPs, led by Opposition Leader and PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, were seen carrying a long white banner calling for Muhyiddin’s resignation as they headed towards Parliament along Jalan Padang Merbok and were accompanied by the police.
Prior to marching to Parliament, MPs were also seen giving speeches at Dataran Merdeka demanding entry.