The first sitting of Perak’s 13th State Assembly Session was held for five days from August 26 to 30. The opening was officiated by the Regent of Perak, HRH Raja Dr Nazrin Shah. He was accompanied by HRH Raja Puan Besar Tuanku Zara Salim.
Perak Menteri Besar, Dato’ Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and State Assembly Speaker, Datuk S.K. Devamany along with 59 members of the State Legislative Assembly were on hand to greet the royal couple.
After inspecting a guard of honour, mounted by the Federal Reserve Unit, Raja Nazrin proceeded to the Assembly whereupon he delivered his royal address. His address was debated over the next four days.
The Assembly was adjourned sine die on Friday, August 30 at 9.50pm.
The House approved the establishment of three committees each consisting of representatives from both sides of the political divide.
The three committees are:
Public Accounts Committee chaired by Datuk Mohd Tarmizi Idris, Deputy Chairman Datuk Abdul Manaf Hashim and 4 members which include opposition representatives viz Chang Lih Kang and Nga Kor Meng.
Standing Orders Committee chaired by Speaker Datuk S.K. Devamany and six members, which includes opposition representatives viz S. Kesavan and Wong Kah Woh.
State Committee on Privileges chaired by Speaker Datuk S.K. Devamany and six members, which includes opposition representatives viz Dato’ Seri Nizar Jamaluddin and Ong Boon Piow.
The House also approved two bills, the Enactment of the Islamic Family Law (Perak) (Validation) Act 2013 and the Mineral Enactment (Perak) (Validation) Act 2013.
This first sitting of the State Assembly had received a positive feedback. For a change, all elected representatives were allocated their time to present issues regarding their constituencies, which they duly presented with minimal interruption.
Dato’ Rusnah Kassim (Behrang), Executive Councillor for Women’s Development, Family and Social Welfare, described the sitting as one of the best ever. Rusnah praised Speaker Datuk SK Devamany and his Deputy for a job well done. They had been objective and fair to both sides. It was conducted in a very cordial atmosphere with debates focusing on the rakyat’s problems. Questions raised by the Opposition were answered without the tell-tale hackling like before.
Teja Assemblyman, Chang Lih Kang, agreed that there was a vast improvement in the handling of the assembly by the Speaker. Devamany’s amicable persona was the reason why more spoke up. Chang, however, warned that whatever good that had come out of this sitting would go to waste if the state government did not walk the talk.
Opposition Leader, Dato’ Seri Nizar Jamaluddin, said that over 400 questions from the Opposition were left unanswered while his questions to Zambry, during his winding-up speech, were being continuously interrupted without him getting any proper answers.
Another positive change was points raised by newly-elected politicians, one of whom was the Assemblyman for Pinji, Howard Lee Chuan How. Lee highlighted the plight of commuters who were being inconvenienced by SPAD’s directive requiring all express bus commuters to embark and disembark at Terminal Aman Jaya, Jelapang. The new terminal, said Lee, is not served with sufficient feeder buses thus commuters have to resort to taxis to get to their homes. Taxi fares are very pricey.
Lee’s asessment got Zambry’s attention, as the MB, in his winding-up speech, alluded to his suggestion about “decentralisation” which simply means that public participation or Local Agenda 21 should be encouraged before a policy change is made.
With the new assemblymen highlighting their constituencies’ problems in detail there would be more work for government officials. This was revealed to the media by senior civil servants attending the assembly.
Notwithstanding the hype surrounding this sitting, I feel a new era of political awareness has arrived in Perak where public’s participation will become more pronounced, forthwith.
Those keen on following future sittings of the State Assembly can access the state government portal at www.peraknews.com where live coverage of proceedings are televised daily.