KUALA LUMPUR – The Dewan Rakyat has decided to make some adjustments in its Order of Business for the Third Meeting of the Third Session of the 14th Parliament to ensure smooth running of the Dewan Rakyat sitting amid COVID-19.
Among the adjustments is that the daily sitting time will only be from 10 am to 2 pm with the number of Members of Parliament (MPs) allowed in the hall is limited to only 80 at any one time.
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun said the decision was reached at the Dewan Rakyat Order of Business Coordination Meeting Following Spread of COVID-19 yesterday, which was also attended by 10 party chief whips.
Azhar said by taking into consideration the advice from the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Security Council (MKN), the meeting agreed with the change of the sitting time which will take effect from next Monday to Dec 15.
“The Dewan Rakyat will sit only from 10 am to 2 pm. The Question Time on Mondays and Wednesdays will be held for an hour from 10 am to 11 am.
“On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Question Time will be held for 55 minutes from 10.05 am to 11 am. Only one supplementary question will be allowed and it must be as simple as possible,” he announced at the sitting today.
The text of the Speaker’s announcement was read out by Deputy Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon.
Azhar said the Minister’s Question Time will be held every Tuesday and Thursday for only five minutes from 10 am during which the MPs will read out their questions and the relevant ministers will reply in writing on the same day.
“The questions and answers will be posted on the Parliament’s portal as soon as possible,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said the meeting also agreed that the debate on the Supply Bill 2021 at the policy level will be held for eight days from Nov 9 to 12 and Nov 16 to 19, while the minister’s reply at the policy level will remain for three days from Nov 23 to 25.
“The debate at the committee level will be held for 11 days, namely on Nov 26 and 30, Dec 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14 and 15.
“The number of days allotted for the Third Meeting can be increased by another two days, namely on Dec 16 and 17, if necessary,” he said.
Azhar said if the Dewan Rakyat were to sit until 5.30 pm according to the original Order of Business, a total of 89 hours and 30 minutes would have to be spent for the debates on the Supply Bill at both the policy and the committee levels.
However, with the adjustments, the time to be spent on the debates on the Bill or Budget 2021 will be reduced to only 66 hours.
“Despite the reduction of time for the debate and winding up session, the MPs will still have ample time give fair consideration to Budget 2021,” he said.
On the number of MPs allowed to attend the sitting, he said it is now limited to only 80 at any one time, comprising 41 from the government and 39 from the opposition and the Independents, including those who are scheduled to debate.
Azhar said the selection of MPs to be allowed to attend the sitting will be made by their respective parties.
“The Dewan Rakyat secretary will issue special attendance cards to Kota Bharu MP to coordinate the attendance among the Cabinet members and government backbenchers, and to Sungai Petani MP to coordinate attendance among the opposition and Independent MPs,” he said.