KUALA LUMPUR, Apr 9 – After 20 days of sitting, during which 13 bills were passed, including the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017, the first meeting of the fifth term of the 13th Parliament was adjourned sine die last Thursday. The sitting, which began on March 6, made history when it convened almost 20 hours a day before it was adjourned.
The Parliament sitting was reconvened at its main building after work on its repair and renovation, which started in 2012, was completed. The sitting was opened by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who in his speech, expressed disappointment that fraud, corruption, leakages and leaks of government information involving government officials and former civil servants still happened.
After a week of debate, followed by the winding up on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s opening speech, the Parliament sitting became heated with the tabling and debate of the bills, including the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017. Ironically, the bills received positive reaction from the parliamentary members, including from the opposition, reflecting the solidarity of all quarters, especially in ensuring the safety and interests of children in the country.
However, a statement by Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Shabudin Yahya on marriage between a rapist and victim during a debate session drew various reactions. This led him to issue a statement to clarify the matter in which he said his controversial statement on a rapist marrying a victim was misconstrued and inaccurate.
The highlight at this sitting was also on the tabling of a private bill by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act on the last day of sitting. Parliament Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, however, deferred the debate on Hadi’s motion to the next Parliament sitting and adjourned the current sitting at 4pm.
The decision by Pandikar Amin to adjourn the last day of the sitting earlier than usual drew loud protests, especially from the opposition lawmakers who felt they were denied the opportunity to debate the bill. The action by Pandikar Amin in prohibiting media members from gathering at the parliament lobby also drew protests from media practitioners.
Besides the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017, other bills passed by Parliament at this sitting were the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2017, Bankruptcy (Amendment) Bill 2016, Self-Employment Social Security Bill 2017, Tourism Tax Bill 2017, Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill 2017, Labuan Business Activity Tax (Amendment) Bill 2017, Supplementary Supply Bill (2016) 2017, Judges’ Remuneration (Amendment) Bill 2017, Strategic Trade (Amendment) Bill 2017, Private Higher Educational Institutions (Amendment) Bill 2017, Weights and Measures Amendment Bill 2017 and the Courts (Modes of Commencement of Civil Actions) Bill 2016. According to the Parliament website, the next parliament sitting is scheduled on July 24. — Bernama