Pending rep gets told off for ‘dreaming’, being ‘irrelevant’ during debate on bill amendment

A composite picture of (clockwork from left) Mohd Asfia, Yong, Sharifah Hasidah, and Ibrahum during the DUN sitting on Nov 22, 2022. Screenshots taken from Sarawak Public Communication Unit (Ukas)

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By Yee Mei

KUCHING, Nov 22: Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar has cut off Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong’s debate speech on the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) (No 2) Bill, 2022.

In her debate speech, Yong of Democratic Action Party (DAP) chided Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) for agreeing to form the Federal government with Perikatan Nasional (PN), which PAS is a member party of and claimed that GPS did not take into consideration the racial and religious unity in Sarawak.

“You got it wrong — this (amendment) is (about the) anti-party hopping law whereby one elected member jumps to another political party,” said Mohd Asfia before cutting off Yong’s microphone, ending her debate speech prematurely.

“No GPS member is joining PAS — you ask them. You are talking about coalitions; this is not about coalitions. This is about a member jumping from one party to another or an Independent joining a party. You are barking (up) the wrong tree,” said Mohd Asfia.

Meanwhile, Satok assemblyman Datuk Ibrahim Baki accused Yong of ‘dreaming’.

“How do you know we’re teaming up with PAS? What is clear is you’re forming a coalition with Umno (United Malays National Organisation) in Perak — this is real; it’s against your motto,” said Ibrahim.

Deputy Minister in Sarawak Premier’s Office Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, who tabled the Bill, also chided Yong, calling her ‘irrelevant’.

“It’s got nothing to do with the amendment; I don’t see any point in what she says. You (Yong) are irrelevant. This amendment is about party hopping, not coalitions or alliances. I hope you understand. If you don’t, you read back the law,” said Sharifah Hasidah.

Later in a press conference, Yong said she was only trying to highlight the event of a political bloc, party, or alliance ‘jumping ship’ just like what is happening at the Federal level, which she considered as not being covered by the amendment.

Yong during the press conference during the DUN sitting on Nov 22, 2022.

She brought up the incident when GPS chief Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg slammed Perikatan Nasional (PN) for fielding a candidate in the 15th General Election (GE15) and compared it to a few days ago when the premier announced that GPS would be cooperating with PN to form the federal government.

“I urge GPS to reconsider and not form a pact with PN, particularly PAS,” she said, bringing up PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang’s past remarks against the Dayaks for wearing cawat (loincloth) and for saying non-Muslims are the root cause of corruption.

At the same time, Yong also brought up her concern that the amendment would give too much power to the Speaker and cited some possible scenarios: when a member of a political party resigns from the party or ceases to be a member of the party, and if a member elected as an Independent joins a political party to drive home her point.

“These are the scenarios which will cause the vacancy of the State seats. When this happens, the person will have to write a notice to the Speaker.

“In the article here, it says that ‘whenever the Speaker receives a written notice from any member of the DUN under this Speaker, the Speaker shall establish that there is such a vacancy’. This means the Speaker is the one to decide whether the seat will be vacant or not,” she said. — DayakDaily