Speaker clarifies that motions must be read in the Assembly before he can decide whether to accept or reject it.

KUCHING: Speaker Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar has clarified in the media that motions cannot be rejected outside the Sarawak Assembly. “Motions must be accepted or rejected in the Assembly.”

“I have to wait for members to read them out before making up my mind whether to accept or reject. I can’t decide now whether they are frivolous.”

He was commenting on Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem telling the media, on the sidelines of two pre-Assembly meetings on Sunday, that some motions planned for the opening of the Assembly on Tuesday were “stupid and for the sake of publicity and as political ploys” and should be rejected outright. We are more than ready for them (the Opposition), vowed Adenan, “and we have a few surprises for them too.”

Adenan cited, as an example, a motion by Pujut Assemblyman Fong Pau Teck to rename the head of government as Prime Minister, and hence the Assembly as Parliament as in the states in Australia.

Asfia conceded to an extent on the examples cited in Australia but pointed out that the legislatures at the state level in Australia had two houses as in the Federal Parliament, lower and upper. Hence, they were named State Parliaments. “In Sarawak, we have only one chamber in the Assembly,” said Asfia. “That’s why we have a State Legislative Assembly.”

He said that he would reject a proposed motion by Fong for a Referendum to be held in Sarawak, if read out, “because it was very strong”. Fong has since clarified that he doesn’t plan to read out the motion on the Referendum. “No point reading out the motion if it’s going to be rejected. I may table it another time.”

Asfia, delving into details, said that he had received 335 questions from 39 members for oral and written replies and seven motions including one by Fong to oppose the amendments to the Sedition Act and calling for its repeal.

Opposition Leader and Ba’Kelalan Assemblyman Baru Bian, he said, “had a very long motion on rejecting the introduction of hudud law in Sarawak”.

Kota Sentosa Assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen, added Asfia, had two motions namely on the terminology Dayak, and another on getting the Sarawak Government to recognise the United Examination Certificate issued by Chinese schools in the country.

Batu Lintang Assemblyman See Chee How, continued Asfia, had a motion on the sale of state-owned Sacofa Sdn Bhd to Cahya Mata Sarawak, formerly state-owned and now owned by family members of Sarawak Governor Taib Mahmud. “The favourite subject is Sacofa.”

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