State Opposition Leader Azhar Ibrahim (BN-Penaga), who had unsuccessfully sought to refer Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to the rights and privileges committee, has been sanctioned himself.
A motion was filed this morning to suspend and refer him to the committee for levelling the accusation yesterday that an entry in the Hansard had been “manipulated”.
Jagdeep Singh Deo (DAP-Dato Keramat, left) cited Standing Order 34 (4) and 34 (9) in raising the motion, saying Azhar has insulted the House and that this has brought the assembly and speaker into disrepute.
Azhar and the other 10 BN assemblypersons were not in the House this morning.
Speaker Abdul Halim Hussain read out the motion which received unanimous agreement from all the Pakatan Rakyat assemblypersons present.
Azhar was then suspended from the House with immediate effect, with the committee to determine the duration of his suspension.
He had earlier described Azhar's statement as "unprecedented, irresponsible, insulting and disrespecting" not only to the House as the highest decision-making body in the state, but also to the speaker.
Azhar (left) has been suspended twice previously- for allegedly showing his bottom to the speaker and then for allegedly making seditious remarks on the racial riots of May 13, 1969.
Yesterday, the BN representatives had walked out of the House in protest, after failing to move a motion to sanction Lim for allegedly saying that Hindu temples would be "demolished" if Umno comes back to power in the state.
Azhar had also threatened to lodge reports with the police and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on Lim's "seditious comment" and his suspicion that the Hansard entry on this had been manipulated.
Lim has maintained that he only said he "felt that Hindu temples would be threatened" if Umno regains power in Penang, and has shown reporters a video clip which confirms his claim.
In the House today, Halim ( right ) gave a lecture to the remaining assemblypersons, saying that Azhar’s remark had tarnished the reputation of the state assembly and the speaker.
“The statement is serious and misleads people on the independence of the House and speaker, which have carried out their duties in a responsible and fair manner,” he said.
“The proceedings can be followed on the Internet, so the remark of manipulation is uncalled for and I condemn it.
“The remark is irresponsible for a state assemblyperson, and there were attempts to drag me as a speaker into the debate."
Halim said he had hoped that the previous sanctions on Azhar had been a lesson for all to issue statements which are only factual and not based on guesses which could create controversy.
However, issues of race and religion continue to be a sensitive issue that needs to be debated in a professional and less emotional manner, he noted.
'Stenographers are just being professional'
Lim said no one has ever before questioned the credibility of the House, speaker and stenographers on duty.
He said the work of the 21 stenographers on duty have now been questioned.
“They are not political but are just being professional, doing their duty. Questioning their credibility cannot be accepted,” he said.
“This is a black mark for democracy and an attack on the institution of the state assembly, including a gross attack on the speaker of the House.
“Azhar did not provide any proof, this is just a blatant lie. If he talks about retiring , he will retire without honour.”
When contacted, Azhar was unfazed by the suspension, saying that it has nothing to do with his impending retirement from politics.
The veteran Umno leader said the speaker was "biased" as Abdul Halim did not allow the BN representatives' motion to censure Lim.
"Democracy is dead in the House and in Penang. They do not even know the difference between a verbatim account of the proceedings and the Hansard," he told the media.
The Hansard is an official document of the proceedings of the state assembly, while the verbatim account is a draft of this.