Hybrid sitting not feasible

State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar and his deputy Datuk Gerawat Gala at the press conference today. Photo: Ghazali Bujang

KUCHING: The holding a hybrid State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting is not feasible as it is marred with technicalities, said DUN Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar.

He said the provisions of the Federal and State Constitutions, the practical procedure and rules of the Standing Orders, the provisions of the DUN (Privileges and Power) Ordinance 2007 must be strictly adhered to and complied with.

“All speeches and votes of Honourable Members must be made in the Chambers. Any violation of these rules and procedure will result in the votes becoming null and void and speeches will not be accorded parliamentary immunity in civil litigations.

“This inevitably leads to the curtailment freedom of speech and civil litigations involving laws of libel and slander,” he said during a press conference Wednesday (Aug 4).

Asfia said the provisions in the Standing Orders and DUN (Privileges and Powers) Ordinance 2021 specifically protected members delivering speeches in the Chambers and not outside the precincts of DUN.

“The Parliamentary Immunity accorded under Article 63 of the Federal Constitution should be read together with Article 25 of the State Constitution of Sarawak.

“The freedom of speech, the privileges to address the Dewan and such speeches are reduced to liability and litigation as in enshrined in Section 3 (Freedom of speech and debate) of the DUN (Privileges and Powers) Ordinance 2007.

He said the Standing Orders did not have provisions for the speeches and votes from outside the Chambers or the precincts.

Asfia said amendments must be made to the Standing Orders and the DUN (Privileges and Powers) Ordinance 2007 for the members to be protected.

“Without the amendments, the privileges accorded to the members will evaporate and any slips of the tongue and misstep will be devastatingly catastrophic.

“It is like a roomful of gunpowder keg. All that is needed is for a match to be lit up and the whole building will be blown up,” he said.