Parliament's clock frozen to rush Bills

S Pathmawathy & Hazlan Zakaria 1:08AM Apr 20, 2012

In a move not seen in 22 years, Parliament was forced to literally freeze time at the stroke of midnight to allow it to pass a backlog of Bills and motions.

"The digital clocks went blank in the chamber," described Rasah MP Anthony Loke when met later.

This was in order to ensure the legislative body had enough of time to pass an amendment Bill and five motions that made up the remaining government business on the final day of this sitting.

The cdigital clock was turned off during the debate for the Capital Markets And Services (Amendments) Bill 2012.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nazri Abdul Aziz started the ball rolling by tabling a motion under Standing Order 90 (2) which allows for the House to suspend its regulations under extenuating circumstances.

The motion was to "suspend the enforcement of Standing Order 12 to allow the House to conclude business that we need to finish today".

Marathon sitting

Standing Order 12 regulates the time that Parliament begins and ends its sitting.

Its suspension meant that in practice the Dewan Rakyat can ignore the passage of time and continue with its business until it is all concluded.

Met in the MP's lounge afterward, Nazri explained that his motion had suspended Standing Order 12(3) which states that Parliament must finish its business on that day itself.

"But we suspended the entire Standing Order," he said.

Nazri said the last time he could recall this happening was in 1990 and in 1977 - when the House debated on the Emergency declaration for Kelantan.

At midnight, there were 34 BN MPs, 17 Pakatan Rakyat MPs and one independent.

Nazri said that the Dewan Rakyat is expected to continue proceedings until 3am.