Malaysia

Stronger opposition numbers set to heat up Parliament exchanges

June 03, 2013

There are no “independent” lawmakers in the current Parliament. — Reuters picThere are no “independent” lawmakers in the current Parliament. — Reuters picKUALA LUMPUR, June 3 — Going by the numbers, lively debates can be anticipated in the Dewan Rakyat which convenes on June 24, with the MPs from both sides of the political divide resuming their “unfinished arguments” which started during the general election.

The outcome of the 13th general election on May 5 saw the Barisan Nasional (BN) winning 133 seats in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat and the opposition taking up 89 seats, leaving a difference of 44.

Without the 55 MPs appointed as Cabinet ministers and deputy ministers, the BN will be left with only 78 backbenchers in the august House.

Among the new faces expected to be the more vocal of the MPs are Mohd Rafizi Ramli (PKR-Pandan), Mohamed Hanifa Maidin (PAS-Sepang) Takiyuddin Hassan (PAS-Kota Baharu), Mohamad Idris Jusi (PKR-Batu Pahat), Idris Ahmad (PAS-Bukit Gantang) and Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin (PKR-Bukit Katil).

The BN will be without its outspoken MPs in the likes of Datuk Mohamad Aziz, the former representative for Seri Gading (who did not contest in the general election), or Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan, who had been critical of PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and is now the minister for urban well-being, housing and local government.

Khairy Jamaluddin has been appointed the minister of youth and sports while Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman has been made deputy minister of agriculture and agro-based industry and Putera MIC national coordinator P. Kamalanathan has been appointed a deputy minister of education.

Nevertheless, several MPs such as Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (Kinabatangan), Datuk Seri Jamaluddin Jarjis (Rompin), Reezal Merican Naina Merican (Kepala Batas), Datuk Noh Omar (Tanjong Karang), Chua Tee Yong (Labis) and Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong (Ayer Hitam) are expected to come to the defence of the BN in the Dewan Rakyat.

Unlike in the last Dewan Rakyat, there are no independent MPs in the 13th Parliament.

Also, for the first time, the Cabinet does not have representation from the MCA and Gerakan after the two BN partners decided not to take up positions in the government due to their poor showing in the general election.

The MIC has two ministers, in party president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel (natural resources and environment) and deputy president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam (health). Vice-president Datuk M. Saravanan is the deputy minister of youth and sports while Kamalanathan is a deputy minister of education.

In the absence of the MCA representatives, Palanivel is expected to occupy the seat next to Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. However, according to Parliament sources, the seating order has yet to be finalised.

Focus will also be on several new members in the transformational cabinet of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, among them experienced leaders such as Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh and Datuk Halimah Mohd Saddique and new faces like Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan, Kamalanathan, Datuk Mary Yap Kain Ching and P. Waythamoorthy as well as the young like Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar.

Abdul Wahid Omar, the president and chief executive officer of Malayan Banking Bhd, was appointed a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (in charge of the Economic Planning Unit) and Paul Low, president of Transparency International Malaysia, was also appointed a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (in charge of the Public Complaints Bureau besides handling matters related to corruption and integrity).

Seventeen representatives from Sabah and Sarawak have been appointed to the federal government as ministers and deputy ministers, taking into consideration the two states’ contribution to the BN in the general election.

Prior to the dissolution of Parliament, the federal cabinet had 11 representatives from Sabah and Sarawak. — Bernama