A more heated Parliament with bigger Opposition

The Star: March 10, 2008
PETALING JAYA: Expect more heated exchanges in Parliament now that the Opposition has quadrupled its seats.
The DAP, PAS and PKR alliance increased their total from 21 to 82 seats, thus reducing Barisan Nasional’s clout to just a simple majority.
PKR made the biggest improvement by increasing its seats from one to 31, followed by DAP with 28 and PAS 23.
Barisan, which still forms the Federal Government, now controls 140 of the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat. In 2004, it had representatives in over 90% of the 219-seat House.
According to sources, parliamentary proceedings would most likely be extended given that more MPs, especially from the Opposition, would want to say their piece.
“It will be a tougher job for the Barisan party whip to ensure the daily attendance of all its MPs, and it might be made compulsory.”
Seat reshuffling would take place as the Opposition, which previously occupied only one block of seats, will now fill at least three blocks.
However, the Opposition’s seat increase is not likely to affect the passing of bills, which normally requires a simple majority from members’ voting, except for the Federal Constitution.
Former Deputy Speaker Datuk Lim Si Cheng confirmed that a two-thirds majority would be needed before any amendment was made to the Constitution.
Parliament’s first sitting must be held within 120 days from its dissolution date, which was on Feb 13.
On the appointment of the Speaker and the two deputies, Lim said they would be elected in the first meeting after a general election.
The Speaker could either be an MP or an outsider but the two deputies must be voted from among members of the House, he said.