Poser over Anwar as session begins

Poser over Anwar as session begins

PETALING JAYA - The big question mark hanging over the position of the Opposition Leader is set to be answered as a fresh Dewan Rakyat meeting starts today.

The uncertainty over the post arose when Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was sentenced to five years' jail by the Federal Court after it denied his appeal against his conviction for sodomising his former aide.

Anwar, who is Permatang Pauh MP, is currently serving his sentence at Sungai Buloh Prison and law experts have argued that he will not be able to attend Dewan sittings unless he obtains permission from the Home Minister.

Anwar's family applied for a royal pardon for the conviction on Feb 24, and the question as to whether the parliamentary seat will be vacated to pave way for a by-election rests on the King's decision.

Dewan Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia had said that as the Chair, only he can make the announcement on the vacancy of the Permatang Pauh seat the moment Anwar loses his eligibility as an MP.

An MP can be disqualified if he is convicted by a court of law and sentenced to a jail term of one year and above, or fined at least RM2,000 and has not received a pardon.

The Dewan meeting - to go on for 20 days until April 9 - is also set to see the tabling of the much anticipated Prevention of Terrorism Bill, aimed at combating terrorist activities, including the influence of the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Under the proposed Act, suspected terrorists can be held for two years, followed by another two years should the circumstances call for it.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is expected to table the Bill.

The formulation of the Bill was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Nov 26 when he tabled a White Paper on tackling the IS threat.

On another matter, the Members of Parliament (Remuneration) (Amendment) Bill 2014 is also set to be tabled after it was postponed in the last meeting.

Other issues likely to crop up during proceedings include Goods and Services Tax (GST), which will be imposed beginning April 1.

The PAS-led Kelantan government's proposal to implement its version of hudud in the state is also likely to be raised by lawmakers.

The first meeting of the third term of the 13th Parliament will be opened by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah today.

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