KUALA LUMPUR – The Dewan Rakyat sitting was lively momentarily this morning when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak responded to a question from Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali who linked the debt of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) to debt management with the latest water crisis in Selangor.
Azmin in his supplementary question to Najib, the Finance Minister, who was present to answer the first question in the oral question-and-answer session on debt management and credit ratings, had asked if the 1MDB debt would affect the country’s debt.
The question was answered by Najib with a smile : “YB Gombak, the water crisis in Selangor is more critical.”
Najib’s statement was supported by a number of Members of Parliament from the government, including Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Rahim (BN-Baling), Datuk Othman Abdul (BN-Pendang) and Datuk Noraini Ahmad (BN-Parit Sulong).
“The water issue in Selangor is becoming more critical, I have not taken a shower this morning,” said Azeez.
The situation turned unruly when Mohamed Azmin refused to back out and started to exchange tirades with Abdul Azeez until Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia had to order them to sit down.
Both Mohamed Azmin and Abdul Azeez’s refusal to sit down and shouts from several government backbenchers for the Menteri Besar Selangor to sit down compelled Pandikar to intervene and reminded them to comply with the Standing Orders.
This is the privilege of Parliament, there are questions asked based on other basics, That’s politics, but don’t violate the Standing Orders, Pandikar said firmly.
However the rowdiness continued and several government backbenchers, including Noraini and Datuk Normala Abdul Samad (BN Pasir Gudang) repeatedly told Mohamed Azmin to sit down so that Najib could answer the question.
The situation once again led Pandikar to issue a warning to all Members of Parliament to calm down and allow the Dewan Rakyat to re-convene.
Don’t let me use my power. YB please be silent, he said.
Najib then replied to Mohamed Azmin, saying that the country’s debt was well managed and this was evident with the country obtaining good ratings from international rating agencies.
“I also make a comparison because there is also an example when we answer. Why is Gombak YB uncomfortable when the issue of water is mentioned?
The debt issue is well managed because the percentage of GDP (gross domestic product) has been reduced from 55 per cent to 50.8 per cent and the total amount of debt has contracted further.
“It’s not about debt but our ability to pay back. Our ability to pay back cannot be questioned because the international rating bodies give us the A category. So our national debt is well managed with the hope that the water problem in Selangor is well resolved,” he added.