KOTA KINABALU, Sept 22 — An argument broke out at the State Assembly today after Tanjung Kapor assemblyman Ben Chong Chen Bin raised the Standing Order 2 to extend the meeting that was to be adjourned at 3.30pm following the advice given by the Health Ministry.
“I am made to understand that the meeting would be adjourned at 3.30pm and following my mathematical calculation, many of the assemblymen here would not have the opportunity to debate. We have come to the house to bring issues for solutions. Not for hello and goodbye. The time given to each representative of the people to debate is short so I plead with the speaker to allow the time to be extended so that the assemblymen at the house can debate,” he said to deputy speaker Datuk George Ginibun who was presiding the meeting then.
His proposal was seconded by Luyang assemblyman Phoong Jin Zhe who said that they were bringing the aspiration of the people and voters at their constituency.
“Moreover, Covid-19 has disrupted the lives of the people throughout Sabah. Hence, I quote 2(1)a for the meeting to continue until 5.15pm,” he said.
Tanjung Aru assemblyman Datuk Junz Wong interjected that the Standing Order stated the time stipulated for the meeting and said that it is unfair to stop the voice of the people.
He also said that although the Health Ministry had given the advice, the speaker had the prerogative to decide on the matter.
George explained that the Health Ministry has advised that they do not stay long in the house for their own health.
This was interrupted by Phoong who reminded that although the ministry gave the advice, the Standing Order stated the meeting must be extended to 5.15pm.
After this, a ruckus ensued with Pitas assemblyman Ruddy Awah raising his voice, “We must follow the Health Ministry. Please Luyang, don’t make a disturbance. It is not the speaker who made (the decision).
Why are you complaining? The speaker already explained earlier the rules are there, but the Health Ministry has decided. Please meet with the Health Ministry.”
To ease the situation, Merotai assemblyman Sarifuddin Hatta stood up and told everyone to stay cool.
“Don’t fight. Steady ba,” he said.
He added that everyone had an opportunity to give their views but it was up to the speaker.
George then reiterated that the Health Ministry does not want them to be in the house for too long.
“It is for the sake of our health here. It is not that we don’t want to extend the discussion, but we get the advice from the Health Ministry,” he said.
This was interrupted by Ben who said that the sitting at Parliament was allowed to go on until 7pm with the hall filled with people.
“I think the SOP (standard operating procedure) from the Health Ministry is one country, two SOPs,” he said.
Paginatan assemblyman Datuk Abidin Madingkir who is also the assistant minister to the chief minister, then stood up and reminded that the speaker then, Kadzim M Yahya, had informed the house that the meeting would adjourn at 3.30pm.
“No member of the house objected then,” he said.
“The speaker said that the duration for each debate would be shortened. Tomorrow we will have some more time to debate the Head of State’s speech. The speaker has mentioned that those who do not have the opportunity to speak will be given priority in the next sitting in November.
“As for the longer duration at parliament, to my knowledge the time for sitting was also shortened under the advice of the MKN. We are talking about pandemic. What is more important is that we are protected,” said Abidin. — Borneo Post Online