By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, Feb 18: Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei today demanded State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar to step down as he has prevented opposition lawmakers from speaking up during DUN sittings.
He said Asfia had made the august House undemocratic by bending rules to protect his political master, and the best thing to do is to boot him out from office by changing the state government in the next state election, which must be held by 2021.
“It is a sad thing because I want the 150-year-old DUN progress to a more democratic institution, but the Speaker is too defensive and employed a defensive attitude.
“Instead of considering my proposal, he referred me to the Committee of Privileges. This is something unfortunate, and I will say that the Speaker is the stumbling block to reforming DUN and also the hindrance to the institution to being more democratic,” Wong told reporters after attending his hearing before the Committee of Privileges at the DUN Building Complex here this morning.
Wong was referred to the Committee for proposing a DUN reform on Nov 12 last year. Among his proposals was to allow for the motions of opposition members to be tabled and debated in the sitting as well as to allow freedom over the microphone to speak without having to ask permission from the Speaker beforehand.
Meanwhile, during his hearing, Wong said he challenged the legality of the hearing because he opined that the Committee of Privileges did not meet Standing Order 73 (6), where the quorum of any meeting of the Committee of Privileges shall be four, including its chairman.
He argued that Asfia, as the chairman of the committee, was absent. Deputy Speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala sat in for Asfia.
Others present during the hearing were Assistant Minister for Corporate Affairs Abdullah Saidol, Assistant Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin, Minister for Tourism, Arts, Culture Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and Deputy Chief Ministers Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.
Asked on the outcome of the hearing, he said the referral would have to be submitted to the DUN first before any decisions are made.
From past experiences, Wong said opposition members referred to the Committee of Privileges were almost always barred between six and 12 months from attending DUN sittings, which are held twice annually.
“I hope mine would not be that long,” he said. — DayakDaily