KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 — A tall man, Datuk Seri Najib Razak was hardly noticed when he attended the first sitting of the 14th Parliament today.
The former prime minister whose presence, and absence, from the Dewan Rakyat used to be closely followed by MPs and media alike seemed to have become a wallflower after the 14th general election that resulted in the fall of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition he once led.
The Pekan MP, uninterrupted since 1986, was also not seen when the Opposition, which now includes BN, staged a walkout this morning to protest the swearing-in of Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohd Ariff Yusof.
He was nowhere in sight at the Dewan Rakyat lobby where his Umno colleagues, including Ketereh MP Tan Sri Annuar Musa and Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, told reporters about the Opposition’s dissatisfaction over Mohd Ariff’s appointment.
It was much later, after all 221 MPs present were sworn in that Najib told reporters that he had accepted his fate and stopped dwelling on the past.
“I want to be a constructive Opposition member and I would like to play my role to ensure that the country practises a healthy democracy,” he said.
Najib said he only has one wish now — for the Pakatan Harapan government led by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to walk the talk.
“When we were the government, people always point fingers at us. Now, Pakatan Harapan should show that they won’t deny the Opposition’s right to be vocal.
“Even today, they have failed to give us the opportunity to make our voices heard by going ahead with the appointment anyway,” he said, referring to the appointment of retired judge and non-MP Mohd Ariff as Speaker.
All MPs were present and sworn in today with the exception of Pagoh MP and Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is currently on a one-month medical leave.