‘I am not stopping anyone from debating!’: Parliament speaker Art Harun lashes out at politicians

Coconuts KL
·2-min read

Malaysia’s parliament speaker Art Harun today lashed out at politicians regarding the restricted number of people allowed to be in the house during daily debates due to COVID-19, even calling out those who don’t return after lunch breaks.

The speaker, whose real name is Azhar Azizan Harun, made the heated clarification in Parliament this morning in response to a lawmaker who wrongly pointed out that reducing the number of attendees from 222 to 80 was unconstitutional. The 58-year-old then told everyone that he was not required by the law to listen to all Members of Parliament during one sitting, which he said seldom had full attendance.

“I am not stopping anyone from debating, you can all debate at any time!” Art could be heard from the parliament live stream. He later added: “Where does it state in the Federal Constitution that I have to listen to all 222 MPs in one sitting? There are only 26 people in one quorum.”

The new restrictions were in place Monday after a political aide contracted COVID-19. Only 80 MPs were allowed to be present in the House of Parliament at any sitting, which has been shortened from nine to five hours. Selected representatives of political parties, 41 from the government and 39 opposition may present themselves up for debates.

Alliance of Hope lawmaker Hassan Abdul Karim had submitted questions to Parliament, saying that the current number of parliamentarians allowed in the hall was against the Federal Constitution.

While taking it out on politicians in Parliament, Art also chided politicians for leaving after lunch breaks.

“Even during our normal parliamentary sessions before this, not all 222 MPs will be present,” he said. “There will be around 120 MPs and not everyone will be here for the whole day. Sometimes, after the 2.30pm lunch break, we can’t even make up the numbers for a full quorum.”

He then highlighted that the decision to impose the COVID-19 restrictions for Parliament was made in consensus with the Ministry of Health.

“We’ve wasted six minutes debating this when it has already been decided with consensus,” Art said. “Let us consider the hard work of our frontliners and Health Director-General Noor Hisham who have been working hard to fight the pandemic for the past seven months.”

Malaysia has reported 40,209 COVID-19 cases since the outbreak began in February.

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Malaysia’s parliament sitting cut short after political aide contracts COVID-19

This article, ‘I am not stopping anyone from debating!’: Parliament speaker Art Harun lashes out at politicians, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.