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Friday, April 20, 2012

The House adjourned at 3.20 am, breaking record.

DAP National Deputy Chiarman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw maintains that members of parliament as legislators must fulfil one of their obligations to legislate whether the House sits in the morning, afternoon or in the early hours.

On 20 April, 2012, Dr Tan took part in the debate in the House on one bill and five motions in the early morning.

Article 12 (1) of the Parliamentary Standing Orders states that each sitting of the House shall begin at 10.00 am and continue until 1.00 pm and resume at 2.30 pm and continue until 5.30 pm or the earlier completion or deferment of business on the Order Paper.

Provided that a Minister may without notice move at any time a motion to be decided without amendment or debate to vary the time of sitting of the House.

Yesterday, just before midnight, the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri moved a motion to allow members to debate the bills and motions until the House was adjourned. The clocks in the House stopped at midnight.

From midnight to 3.20 am, the House debated two bills and five motions, namely Capital Market and Service (Amendment) Bill 2012, Printing Machines and Publication (Amendment) Bill 2012 and five motions from the Finance Ministry. This broke the parliamentary record. Apparently, in 1977 during the Kelantan crisis, the House adjourned just after 2 am.

The Capital Market and Service (Amendment) Bill includes stock exchange and its irregularities. If these are not stamped out, the loss will be billions.
The Printing Machines and Publication (Amendment) Bill comprises of clauses that allow the Minister  to  issue permits. Even if the permit period is over, it is still valid. This seems relatively easier. But, he has the power to draw up reulations as well as to cancel any permit. Publishers, writers and journalists appear to be able to breathe better. There are still constraints. We hope the situation will improve further.

The first motion by the Finance Ministry is about Government Funding Act 1963 transferring RM28,500 millions to the Development Fund for various projects. Some MPs were impatient to go home early. The Government  should reconsider whether to allot development fund to their constituencies.

The second motion involves the 1957 Finance Procedure Act, changing the name odf one of the funds from the Research Council and National Science Development Trust Fund to the Science and National Research Trust Fund. The amount is about RM5 million. This is to give incentives to innovative scientists.
The third motion is also on the 1957 Finance Procedure Act, creating Public Sector ICT Project Trust Fund to encourage public sector ICT personnel to be self-reliant. The sum is still unknown.

The fourth motion deals with ASEAN Infrastructure Fund Limited, attempting to develop infrastructure within the 10 ASEAN nations together with Asian Development Fund. Malaysia contributes US$150 million whereas Indonesia RM120 million.

The fifth motion is on 1967 Customs Act, presenting the rate of customs duties on nine groups such as steel import duty that should not affect Malaysian steel mills, Malaysian common tariff agreements with ASEAN countries, China, Japan, Korea, Chile and others. There were negotiations with the World Customs Organization every five years. As these imply import duties amounting to billions, the House should take it seriously. Every cent that is collected and spent must be debated and passed in the House.
Tan Seng Giaw


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