Parliamentarians gathered for the first time this year ever since the state of emergency barred parliament from reconvening since January – and boy, are we off to a “great” start.
Hours into today’s session at the lower house of parliament, the speaker was already lashing out at politicians bickering at each other while the poor sign language interpreter struggles to keep up. Everyone in parliament also learned only today that all six ordinances – including the one on fake news – have been backdated to July 21 and can no longer be enforced. The state of emergency will also be lifted after Aug. 1.
“I wonder how she interpret sign language like #kerajaangagal #katak #frog #backdoor #PintuBelakang #lapDog #resign #bodoh #bangang #stupid. She’s gonna have one hectic day. Pity her. Face with tears of joy,” Twitter user Sin Yew shared about the unnamed interpreter, including a close-up of her fervently interpreting the ministers’ arguments. The 19-second video was viewed over 37,000 times within three hours.
“Nah. There’s a new interpreter already who replaced her. Her hands [are] probably cramped already,” someone replying to him said.
— Sin Yew (@S_Y_New) July 26, 2021
Here’s a round-up of today’s greatest hits so far as seen live on YouTube:
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun, or Art Harun, was having a hard time telling MPs to shut up today. While going through the ground rules for the special sitting, opposition MPs such as M Kula Segaran and Thomas Su interrupted him.
“What is all this shouting? I am not done (explaining yet). You keep bringing up the SO (Standing Orders), but you yourselves are not complying with it. When I speak, you keep shut,” Art Harun said. Some of them had accused the sitting of going against the constitution and the king’s decree by refusing debates and votes, which Art Harun disagreed with.
“And there’s one final thing I want to say. I don’t agree with everything that all of you (opposition MPs) said,” the speaker said. Citing the official rules, aka Standing Order 11(3), he said that only the prime minister can call for a special parliamentary sitting and establish the conduct of a sitting.
What’s a Malaysian parliamentary sitting without good ol’ name-calling? Opposition Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh set the stage for this by targeting the speaker. Ramkarpal raised his voice at Azhar today, questioning whether he was pro-government when he should be acting as a neutral party.
“Are you a lapdog? Are you a government lapdog? You are a disgrace to this Dewan. You are not fit to be in that chair. Resign!” said Ramkarpal, prompting government backbenchers to call on him to retract his words.
But the rebel went on to grill Azhar on why the emergency proclamation and its ordinances were not brought up in Parliament before they were backdated.
“You have to understand that the rules of the House cannot supersede the constitution. Did you receive orders from the government to not bring forward those issues to Parliament?” Ramkarpal said. “Is this your agenda? If it is, resign.”
If Azhar refuses to relinquish his position, opposition MPs might submit a motion on the matter, he added.
Malaysian politicians love dropping a bombshell announcement every now and then. Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan revealed in parliament today that all six emergency ordinances that were introduced during the state of emergency have been revoked by backdating them to July 21.
He also said that the federal government has decided not to issue another emergency proclamation once the current one expires on Aug. 1.
“I would like to inform the House that His Majesty the Agong has agreed to allow for this special session to meet. The document speaks louder than words,” he said, later adding: “As we have revoked them, the matter of annulling (the emergency) is no longer relevant.”
Takiyuddin’s announcement came right after one MP accused the prime minister of committing treason against the king by taking longer than expected to reconvene parliament, preventing lawmakers the opportunity to debate the emergency ordinances.
Opposition Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin fired shots at Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the MP for Pagoh constituency.
“We know YB Pagoh has committed ‘derhaka’ against the Agong’s decree. He did not reconvene Parliament immediately, and now, he has ordered the Dewan Rakyat not to debate the ordinances,” he said.
The special parliamentary sitting will take place until Aug. 2.
This article, Malaysia had a rowdy start to its first parliamentary sitting of the year, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.