Protests ahead of election map report

Prime Minister Najib Razak in the Malaysian Parliament yesterday, as protesters (right) scuffled with police during a rally against the tabling of the Election Commission's redelineation report. The crowd comprised opposition lawmakers and supporters
Prime Minister Najib Razak in the Malaysian Parliament yesterday, as protesters scuffled with police during a rally against the tabling of the Election Commission's redelineation report. The crowd comprised opposition lawmakers and supporters along with political activists.PHOTOS: BERNAMA, EPA-EFE
Prime Minister Najib Razak in the Malaysian Parliament yesterday, as protesters (right) scuffled with police during a rally against the tabling of the Election Commission's redelineation report. The crowd comprised opposition lawmakers and supporters
Prime Minister Najib Razak in the Malaysian Parliament yesterday, as protesters (above) scuffled with police during a rally against the tabling of the Election Commission's redelineation report. The crowd comprised opposition lawmakers and supporters along with political activists.PHOTOS: BERNAMA, EPA-EFE

Malaysia's opposition veteran suspended after war of words with House Speaker

KUALA LUMPUR • There were noisy protests and angry voices inside and outside the Malaysian Parliament yesterday, ahead of the tabling of a controversial report to redraw the country's election boundaries, with opposition veteran Lim Kit Siang suspended for six months after a war of words with the House Speaker.

Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, the Speaker, told MP Lim to leave the chamber for refusing to sit down, and to stop interrupting the proceedings, while other lawmakers from both sides shouted and jeered at one another.

Mr Lim had demanded an explanation on why the motion of redelineation was embargoed after it was kept on the tables of lawmakers a week ago.

The opposition felt that the embargo had prevented the public from discussing the impact of the alleged illegal redrawing of Malaysia's election boundaries, with the general election expected by the end of April or in early May.

Mr Pandikar Amin did not respond to Mr Lim's demand but said the politician might be suspended.

Mr Lim, who represents Gelang Patah constituency in Johor, refused to sit down and asked for a clarification on the matter.

The Speaker then instructed the sergeant-in-arms to escort the lawmaker out. But Mr Lim refused to budge. "I feel ashamed to be in this honourable House but I will still remain here, despite being ashamed," Mr Lim said.

Other opposition lawmakers said the Speaker must explain why the motion to table the report was going on although there were pending court cases on the delineation.

Mr Pandikar Amin repeatedly told the lawmakers to sit down.

After more shouting, Mr Pandikar Amin called for a temporary adjournment of the proceedings.

"I am temporarily adjourning the House but when I come back, the instructions to suspend YB (His Excellency) Gelang Patah and for him to be ejected out of the House will be continued.

"If he refuses, I will instruct the police to escort him and others who refuse to be sent out, and proceedings will continue," said Mr Pandikar Amin.

Outside the grounds of Parliament, more than 200 people called for the withdrawal of the redelineated maps.

Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, once criticised for his dictatorial-style leadership and also accused of allowing gerrymandering during his 22 years in power, took another stab at Prime Minister Najib Razak in a speech to the crowd. "We have to be brave to oppose it. Najib won't know whom you vote for. Don't be afraid," Tun Dr Mahathir said.

The crowd comprised opposition lawmakers and supporters along with political activists.

Some wore the yellow tee-shirts of the Bersih electoral reform group. They held up placards saying "EC steals the elections", referring to the Election Commission, and "Withdraw the delineation report".

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2018, with the headline 'Protests ahead of election map report'. Print Edition | Subscribe