Parliament sittings in Malaysia never seem to take place without heated arguments and ministers talking over one another.
The scene on 6 October was no different when Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development (KPWKM) was criticised for not providing updates and details on certain policies.
She was also accused of just reading from her script and giving generalised answers when she was questioned by opposition MPs on key policies, such as aid for the elderly, the Sexual Harassment Bill and gender equality.
Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto said:
“I’ve heard these answers before in Parliament. I want to know the efforts that were mentioned by the deputy speaker.”
“Deputy minister, don’t bring up these issues if you do not dare to answer the questions.”
“The acts were ready to be presented in Parliament before the Sheraton Move and the government changed. These acts were supposed to be discussed last year. Don’t point fingers at us, right now who is the government?” she continued.
“You have been in government with the biggest cabinet for more than 24 months. You cannot still say ‘berusaha’ (trying).”
“I want to know, what are these efforts to help women, working mothers, to re-enter the workforce. I heard you say earlier ‘we are trying, we are seeing, we are monitoring, we are studying,’ this is RMK-12 (12th Malaysian Plan), please give good and appropriate answers in parliament.”
Siti Zailah then responded that they can discuss further about the issue in the canteen of the Dewan Rakyat as she had a lot of other matters to go through. However, Kasthuri said that important discussions such as these cannot be taken outside Parliament.
“RMK12, a five-year plan, and you want to discuss it in the canteen?” she asked.
Deputy Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon then intervened and asked the MPs to settle down to allow Siti Zailah to finish her speech. But she was interrupted again by Padang Serai MP and Merbok MP who asked her for an explanation, but were also ignored.
The Deputy Speaker then said the ministry will send their answers in written form.
Deputy Communications Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin then began his speech when Hannah Yeoh stood up to argue that debating in Parliament had no meaning before Rashid cut her mic off.
Rashid then called on Zahidi to continue his speech, but Hannah Yeoh interjected and said that they were making a mockery of Parliament if MPs are not allowed to ask questions.
“You’re making a mockery of Parliament. Cannot ask questions, the written answers don’t have meaning, it doesn’t answer the Parliament members’ questions,” she said, while being talked over by Zahidi.
“If everyone comes and reads a script, anyone can become a minister.”
“Parliament members’ questions must be answered, only then will the debate have meaning. These additional questions should not be seen as a personal attack.”
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