KUALA LUMPUR: All Members of Parliament have the freedom to raise any issue in the Dewan Rakyat, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He said it was the policy of the government to not impose any restriction on speeches by elected representatives in the House.
“It is a little difficult to control the MPs. Usually, they want to speak, and it is our policy not to impose any restriction. They can say what they want to say,” he said to reporters after the opening of the first meeting of the first session of the 14th Parliament by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V, at Parliament House today.
The Dewan Rakyat begins sitting tomorrow.
Dr Mahathir also said that he had a look at the oral questions posed by the MPs and found that many had been directed at him.
He said, however, that he had yet to see the Bills that would be tabled at this meeting.
On the Goods and Services Tax (GST), he said the government was now looking to ensure that Parliament would repeal the Act after having implemented zero-rated GST in June.
To a question on criticism against the government plan to introduce a Sales and Service Tax (SST) at 10 per cent and six per cent, respectively, Dr Mahathir explained that the SST was not the same as the GST.
“Ten per cent if you purchase. If you don’t purchase, you don’t pay, whereas GST is a tax that attacks the source. Whether you buy or not, everything will go up in price,” he said.
Asked about the spontaneous and witty remark by Sultan Muhammad V, before he delivered the royal address, for the MPs to remain in their seats and not leave, Dr Mahathir said those who committed wrong would feel the heat.
The remark is believed to have been made in reference to the walkout by several opposition MPs, including from the Barisan Nasional and PAS, in protest over what they claimed to be an improper procedure in the election of the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat.
Dr Mahathir said the message conveyed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in his royal address was clear, that the people exercise moderation in all matters and be considerate of the religions of others.
“And, they should also have respect for our religion. If we start to belittle other religions, then we will face the consequences,” he said. – Bernama