Malaysia’s lower house of Parliament, the Dewan Rakyat, earlier today descended into a shouting match as multiple Members of Parliament (MP) called for a debate of the recent historic floods – the aftermath of which is still being felt in many states across the peninsular.
“This has affected thousands of victims. The relevant ministers should state the efforts being taken and what is in store for them (the victims),” said DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.
“Some have taken refuge on their roofs, and this is happening in the Klang Valley, the most developed area in Malaysia.”
His calls for a parliamentary enquiry was echoed by other Opposition MPs – namely Amanah President Mohamad Sabu, vice-president Hanipa Maidin, and Jelutong MP RSN Rayer – reported Free Malaysia Today.
However, Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat Azhar Azizan Harun disallowed the debate, citing procedural technicalities.
“We only have one agenda today, that is the debate on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act. I don’t have the power to allow the jump from one issue to another,” he was quoted as saying by The Malaysian Insight.
According to The Vibes, this statement caused an immediate outcry in the hall, prompting Azhar to turn off MPs’ microphones and demanding they sit down.
Disgruntled MPs then held a press conference outside Parliament, saying that the Speaker actually has the discretion to allow last-minute debates to take place – especially concerning natural disasters – but Azhar instead willingly chose not to, reported New Straits Times.
“We are very disappointed. Not only opposition MPs wanted answers on this issue, but government MPs wanted to know too. Pontian MP (Ahmad Maslan of UMNO) too, stood up asking for clarification,” said Lembah Pantai rep Fahmi Fadzil.
“Shall we wait for the Speaker’s house to be flooded before we can have a debate on this in the House?”
Meanwhile, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad took it one step further, saying that the Dewan Rakyat has let the people down for not debating the flood issue.
“We need to do a post-mortem and Dewan Rakyat was the golden opportunity for us to do so… The existing flood evacuation centres don’t even have enough facilities. Where’s the food? Where are the tents, mattresses, and pillows? Do we expect the victims to sleep on the floor?” he said.