Parliament re-opened for the year on 6th March with the Royal Address by Yang Dipertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V.
After 3 years of parliament sitting in the temporary chamber building while the main chamber was undergoing major renovation, MPs returned to the main block in the newly-renovated chambers.
In most other democracies, the renovation of Parliament facilities are usually decided by the MPs collectively. But in the case of Malaysia, even though there is a House Committee, MPs and especially members of the Committee were not consulted for decisions on the renovations. The high cost of renovation and the long delay are regretable.
Be that as it may, now that MPs are back in the main chambers, it is time for the Government to agree for more sitting days.
The main excuse given in the past three years to explain a shorter sitting year was the need for the temporary parliament building to accommodate the needs of both Dewan Negara and Dewan Rakyat, hence the need to reduce the days for sitting.
Dewan sat for 79 days in 2008, 72 days in 2009, 83 days in 2010, 63 days in 2011, 70 days in 2012, 51 days in 2013, 57 days in 2014, 61 days in 2015 and 53 days in 2016. Dewan Rakyat is scheduled to sit for 57 days in 2017.
The Australian and UK Parliaments usually sit for at least 150 days a year.
Now that Parliament has separate facilities for Dewan Negara and Dewan Rakyat, I call on the Minister responsible for Parliament, Dato‘ Azalina Othman and Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin to commit to restoring Parliament sitting to at least 80 days in a year to provide ample time for MPs to debate and deliberate on matters important to the nation and to reduce late night and midnight sittings which are not conducive.
(Media statement by DAP National Political Education Director and MP for Kluang Liew Chin Tong in Parliament on 7th March 2017.)