KUALA LUMPUR (May 28, 2008): By Llew-Ann Phang
Had the Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs - ministers, deputy ministers and the parliamentarians - not reacted fast enough to the bell, the RM16.8 billion Supplementary Supply Bill would not have been passed in Parliament today.
After a 15-minute wait for division (vote), Deputy Speaker Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar ruled the bill was passed 92 to 60 votes, with one abstaining from voting.
The division process erupted from the usual process of Wan Junaidi asking for those in support of it to state if they agree or disagree but he noted that the voice for agreeing was quite soft, then ruling that the voice of disagreement was sharper than agreement.
Tian Chua (PKR-Batu) then stood to ask for a division but Wan Junaidi waved it off saying there was no need for it, echoed by some BN MPs to which Mohamed Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak) then said there was indeed a need for it.
"The sum of RM16 billion is a big amount," Mohamed Azmin said, supported by fellow Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parliamentarians.
Wan Junaidi agreed on the point that it involved a big sum of funds.
"As a matter of principle, we will also want to know who is involved in this and are agreeing to waste the people’s money," Tian Chua said, drawing a loud roar from the BN MPs.
"Show your dissatisfaction outside lah," quipped Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (BN-Pasir Salak).
Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Bandar Kuching) said: "There are many ministers and deputy ministers who are not around and are not willing to sit in the House, so let’s have this to also teach them a lesson so they will attend proceedings."
Wan Junaidi then succumbed to the pressure and asked for parliamentarians to vote.
"Yang Berhormats, there are more than 15 who asked for division and according to Standing Order 46, the division will be held … Now," he said.
Throughout the 15 minutes of collecting votes, MPs started jeering, including Mahfuz Omar (PAS-Pokok Sena) who said: "Those who agree to this are indeed wasters."
Wan Junaidi then called for order and asked the MPs to take their seats.
"No need for you to stand up, Yang Berhormats. Those who are not counters, sit down. There is no need for chaos in the House," he said.
While the bell rang for MPs to return to the House, Wan Junaidi’s instructions and call for calm seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.
Boos and jeers were heard as MPs returned to the House, and even Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took his seat to support the vote. Wan Junaidi was seen smiling at members entering the House.
A few moments later, Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) called for Point-of-Order in Standing Order 48(7) (5) where it provides that members with self-interests cannot support a motion and each parliamentarian needed to declare this.
BN MPs including Datuk Noh Omar (BN-Tanjung Karang), Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal (BN-Semporna) and Datuk Lilah Yassin (BN-Jempol) did not take this sitting down, as they "roared" against this.
After taking control of the situation, Wan Junaidi rejected the Point-of-Order, saying: "The question of interest was not raised in debates, secondly, if we want to investigate one-by-one, we will not be able to solve this even in 2010."
M. Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat) then stood to defend Lim to which Wan Junaidi said: "Yang Berhormat! Everybody has interest in these funds because it is also used for salaries and projects and for roads."
"We all have an interest in it. Stop raising petty issues," he retorted.
Instantly, there was more noise from the PR MPs as Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak made his entry to place his vote.
Khalid Abd Samad (PAS-Shah Alam) quipped: "Next time, let the government's side be better represented."
Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi responded: "Yang Berhormat! (Referring to Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad – Khalid’s brother) Watch your sibling. He’s too naughty."
Following this, Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein also made his entry amid a noisier House.
"Please be patient and don’t make noise," Wan Junaidi pleaded before announcing the decision.
Order only resumed after the BN MPs jeered their PR peers for wasting time while Khalid then said the BN members could now leave the House again since the division was completed