MPs UNITE OVER DIPLOMATIC ROW
Lawmakers from both sides support govt’s efforts to defuse diplomatic tension with N. Korea
THE diplomatic row between Malaysia and North Korea over the murder of Kim Jongnam took centre stage during the Dewan Rakyat’s first meeting this week.
Despite their political differences, members of parliament from across the political divide were united in defending the government’s efforts to defuse the diplomatic tension with the reclusive communist regime.
Besides supporting the government’s move in barring 1,000 North Koreans from leaving the country, several lawmakers also stressed the need to bring home safely the Malaysian embassy staff in Pyongyang.
Datuk Abdul Rahman Mohamad (BN-Lipis) proposed that the government use discreet channels in discussions with North Korea to resolve the issue, while Liew Chin Tong (DAP-Kluang) suggested that the house move a motion on the issue to be debated.
Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Bagan) went as far as urging the government to sever diplomatic ties with the hermit kingdom, but Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak made it clear that ties between the two nations would be maintained.
On Wednesday, Najib told reporters at the Parliament lobby that Malaysia’s immediate priority was to ensure the safety of the 11 Malaysians in North Korea, and that any negotiations would be held behind closed doors.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, in a written reply, said the government did not have a registry of foreign spies operating in the country as these operatives would not announce their presence.
“The Home Ministry and police do not have information on the number of foreign spies in the country as no foreign country would declare their agents to the authorities here.”
Also in the spotlight at the lower house was Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, who delivered a special briefing to parliamentarians on the third anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Despite the lack of fresh data and the suspension of search efforts, Liow on Wednesday said the government remained committed to unravelling the mystery behind tragedy.
A minute of silence was observed at the end of his speech.
This week’s Parliament meeting saw Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the receiving end of comments from Pas, which PPBM is wooing.
Nik Abduh Nik Aziz (Pas-Pasir Mas) was also unreserved with his views on Dr Mahathir, saying that under the latter’s administration, social ills like corruption took place in the country.
On Monday, the first meeting of the fifth term of the 13th parliamentary session kicked off in earnest when Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V delivered his royal address in Parliament, involving Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara members.
The speech saw His Majesty expressing his disappointment with fraud, corruption and the disclosure of classified government information by serving and former public officials.
Halfway through his speech at the Dewan Rakyat, the king spoke on the need for the people to take care of their health and live a healthy lifestyle as his voice appeared to waver slightly.
He reached out for his bottle of water and, with a smile, twisted the cap and said into the microphone: “Kejap. Minum air kejap.”
(Hold on. Let me drink water.)
Parliamentarians smiled and nodded as the king exclaimed “Ahh...” after drinking the water.
His Majesty’s gesture has since gone viral.
The first meeting of the fifth term of the 13th Parliament session will run until April 6.
Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai