Sleeping Parliamentarians and 160B : 1st, 2nd and 3rd Readings

Posted on May 1, 2007

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The Bill that would finally become the Constitution (Amendment) (No.2) Act, 2001 was tabled before the Dewan Rakyat for its first reading on 30th July, 2001. It was tabled again before the Dewan on 31st July, 2001 for its second reading. This continued the following day, after which it was voted upon. 172 in favour, no votes in opposition and no abstentions. The Bill immediately went into Committee stage and emerged without any amendment. On that same day, 1st August, 2001 it had its third reading whereupon it was again voted on. 154 in favour, no votes in opposition and no abstentions.

You may read the debates in full in the Hansard reports of 30th July, 200131st July, 2001 and 1st August, 2001.

As these reports are in PDF, I have not been able to copy and paste here the relevant parts of the report. As such, I will draw your attention to the pages of the report that I think are relevant. However, if you have never previously scrutinized a Hansard report, you may wish to do so now to get a sense of the debates that go on in the Dewan.

Rais Yatim introduced the Bill for its second reading. This is what he said in relation to the proposed Article 160B :

“Perkara 160B baru yang dicadangkanitu akan membolehkan Yang DiPertuan Agung menetapkan tejemahan bahasa kebangsaan Perlembagaan Persekutuan sebagai  teks sahih. Dengan cadangan itu, Jadual ke 11 Perlembagaan Persekutuan juga perlu dipinda untuk memotong seksyen 46 OrdinanTafsiran dan Fasal-Fasal Am 1948 yang menjadikan teks bahasa Inggeris bagi Perlembagaan teks yang sahih pada masa yang berkenaan”.

These introductory remarks may be seen at page 60 of the Hansard report of 31st July, 2001.

Two MPs raised concerns about the provision in the proposed 160B that a translation would prevail over the original Constitution. The first was Lee Kah Choon, the then and present MP for Jelutong during the second reading of the Bill. His concerns appear at page 53 of the Hansard report of 1st August, 2001. The repsonse by Rais to these concerns appear at page 66 of the same report.

The second MP was Mohd Yusoff bin Mohd Nor, the then MP for Machang, at the Committee stage. These appear at pages 70 and 71 of the Hansard Report of 1st August, 2001. Rais’s purported reply also appears at page 71.

At the end of each of the Hansard reports appears a list of all sitting MPs in 2001.