Asfia: No Hybrid DUN Sitting, All Speeches and Votes must be in Chambers
Tarikh : 04 Aug 2021  Sumber Berita: The Borneo Post

Asfia stresses a point during the press conference. Also seen is Deputy DUN Speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala. — Photo by Roystein Emmor


KUCHING (Aug 4): There are no plans for the state to hold a hybrid State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Sitting, said DUN speaker Datuk Amar Mohammad Asfia Awang Nassar.

He said the introduction of a hybrid system into DUN Sarawak “bristles with technicalities”.

“The provisions of the Federal and State Constitutions, the practical procedure and rules of the Standing Orders, the provisions of the Dewan Undangan Negeri (Privileges and Power) Ordinance 2007 must be strictly adhered to and complied with.

“All speeches and votes of Honourable Members must be made in the Chambers,” he told a press conference at the DUN Complex here.

He said any violation of these rules and procedures would result in the votes being null and void and that the speeches would not be accorded Parliamentary Immunity that may result in civil litigations.

“This inevitably leads to the curtailment of freedom of speech and civil litigation involving laws of libel and slander,” he said.

He also said that the provisions in the Standing Orders and DUN (Privileges and Powers) Ordinance 2021 are specifically to protect members delivering speeches in the Chambers and not outside the precincts of the DUN.

“The Parliamentary Immunity accorded under Article 63 of the Federal Constitution should be read together with Article 25 of the State Constitution of Sarawak.

“The freedom of speech, the privileges to address the Dewan and such speeches are reduced to liability and litigation as enshrined in Section 3 (Freedom of speech and debate) of the DUN (Privileges and Powers) Ordinance 2007,” he said.

He pointed out that anything said or actions made by the members outside the precincts of the Dewan would not be accorded any Parliamentary protection.

“Amendments must be made, inter alia, to provisions namely Standing Order 2 — Seats of members; Standing Order 31 — Time and manner of speaking; Standing Order 37 — Behaviour within decorum; Standing Order 40 — Orders in DUN; Standing Order 41(2) — Members absent not allowed to vote; and Standing Order 81 — Absence of members.

“Amendments to the DUN (Privileges and Powers) Ordinance 2007 inter alia are Section 24 — Power of Dewan to punish contempt of the Dewan; and Section 3 — Freedom of speech and debate,” he cited.

He said without the amendments, the privileges accorded to the members would evaporate and any slip of the tongue or misstep would be “devastatingly catastrophic”.

“It is like a room full of gunpowder kegs. All it needs is for a match to be lit up and the whole building will be blown up,” he said.

Meanwhile, Asfia said that Section 4 of the current Emergency (Essential Powers) (Sarawak) Ordinance 2021 forbids any sitting of the DUN.

In view of this, he said in respect of the State Budget required for 2022, the need to get an approval from DUN is immaterial.

“This is clearly stipulated in Section 11 of the current Ordinance which reads, ‘Notwithstanding any provision in the Constitution of the State of Sarawak relating to expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund of the State, any expenditure requiring an ordinance or a resolution of the Dewan Undangan Negeri, and withdrawal from the Consolidated Fund of the State, for so long as the Emergency is in force, any such expenditure or withdrawal from the Consolidated Fund of the State may be made with the approval of the Chief Minister or State Financial Authority, as the case may be in such manner as may be provided by any written law or any Treasury Instructions or Treasury Circulars relating thereto for the time being in force’,” he said.