I woke up really early (even though I slept really late) this morning, to attend my first public hearing in Parliament. I was quite excited and gung-ho at the opportunity to visit our Parliament. It was going to be my first visit to the Parliament in two decades.
When I got there and registered, I was really surprised that they served us breakfast. We were treated to some kuih and bihun goreng of the highest quality. Things seemed to be going well and I met a few familiar faces there.
Then, when the public hearing started proper, things began to turn a little sour. It turns out that this was not going to be a public public hearing. The excuse given was that the committee room was too small to fit everyone in there. So, only those with something to present, will be invited in.
There were quite a lot of us just milling about outside and we began joking about ‘storming the Bastille’ etc. When we suggested that they just broadcast the proceedings to the public gallery, so that the public who were interested in listening, could actually come to listen, the excuse was that there was no recording equipment outside.
We were not quite happy. Fortunately, I am a little thick skinned. So, I crept in with the crowd anyway. The staff at the Parliament were also kind enough to bring in more chairs, though far shy of the number of chairs that they had arranged down-stairs for the meals.
I stayed until we broke for lunch and Friday prayers.
I had the opportunity to listen to several groups make their statements, including MCA, Putera MIC, Transparency International Malaysia, Blind People’s Association, Human Rights Party, Former Police Association etc. It was an interesting experience. I heard some good ideas and some down-right stupid ones.
However, everyone has their right to be heard and I kept silent throughout the proceedings in the morning. I listened quietly and read up on my Consti – Articles 113-120. I bring around my pocket-sized copy of the Consti around with me these days, just for reading.
I found something interesting while reading it this morning – Article 119(3b):
(3) A person is disqualified for being a elector in any election to the House of Representatives or the Legislative Assembly if-
(a) on the qualifying date he is detained as a person of unsound mind or is serving a sentence of imprisonment; or
(b) having before the qualifying date been convicted in any part of the Commonwealth of an offence and sentenced to death or imprisonment for a term exceeding twelve months, he remains liable on the qualifying date to suffer any punishment for that offence.
Shit. You can get disqualified if you committed a sufficiently severe offence, anywhere in the Commonwealth.