KUALA LUMPUR, 21 Oct 2008: A group of Pakatan Rakyat members of parliament (MP) have circulated a petition in Parliament to collect signatures to support a motion to debate the Internal Security Act (ISA).
The petition was to appeal to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to allocate either 29 or 30 Oct or 3 Nov to debate the Act.
“On 20 Oct, Teresa Kok (DAP-Seputeh) tabled the motion to debate the Act but it was matter number 41 in the Order Paper. Hence, the motion was not debated.
“We appeal for priority to be given to the motion when Parliament resumes on 29 Oct after Deepavali and to adjourn the debate on the Supplementary Supplies Bill for a day,” the petition stated.
Batu Gajah MP Fong Po Kuan, who was in charge of the petition, said she had yet to collect any signatures from Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs.
Earlier, DAP’s Fong and Chong Eng (Bukit Mertajam) were also seen approaching de facto law minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz and Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zakarshi (BN-Batu Pahat) but both refused to sign the petition.
Pakatan Rakyat MPs were seen handing out the petition during opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Hari Raya open house in parliament’s banquet hall during lunch today.
“We will submit the first collection of signatures on 23 Oct but we will continue circulating the petition around after that,” said Fong.
Fong added it was ridiculous for the Barisan MPs to not support the petition simply because they were worried about breaking ranks.
“I would certainly support the petition if it was started by the Barisan MPs,” she said.
Nazri, who is in charge of Parliament affairs, said it would not be possible to adjourn the debate on the Bill to make way for the debate on ISA.
“The petition is against our policy as the government does not plan to review or to repeal the Act so it will not happen.
“The Standing Orders also stated that we must finish with all the government affairs before debating other matters,” he said, adding that the opposition MPs could raise the issue in their general debate.
Nazri also said it did not make sense to allocate one day to debate the Act.
On the petition, he said Barisan MPs do not want to sign it as they are bound by the whip but they are free to talk about anything in their general debate.
Kok was arrested on 12 Sept together with Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng and blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin for allegedly threatening national security.
However, Tan was released the next day and Kok was released about a week later. Raja Petra remains in detention.
During Kok’s arrest, DAP led a group of opposition MPs in starting a ‘Free Teresa Kok Parliament Caucus. The caucus was supported by former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, who subsequently resigned over the arrests.