King says 'please be seated, don't run away' (Updated)

KUALA LUMPUR: The first message of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V when he opened the first session of the 14th Dewan Rakyat sitting was to ask parliamentarians not to leave the house.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated, don't run away," he said jokingly while giving his salutation.

MPs from both sides of the political divide also saw the funny side of it and burst out laughing as Sultan Muhammad began his speech.

While he did not mention names, the Agong was likely taking a dig at Opposition MPs from Barisan Nasional (BN) and PAS who had staged a walkout from Parliament on Monday in protest of the appointment of former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof as Dewan Rakyat Speaker.

They had said that in accordance with Parliament's Standing Orders, the name of the speaker must be submitted at least 14 days prior to the sitting, which they claimed Pakatan Harapan had not adhered to.

"The people have chosen, therefore all parties should accept and respect the result of the general election without being emotional, narrow minded or having prejudicial or slanderous thoughts that are influenced by sensationalisation and speculation.

"We hope all parties will work together in striving towards genuine unity as well as finding solutions for the good of the people as well the survival of our nation," he said in his speech.

The King also welcomed the idea of setting up a national consultative council on harmony to promote unity whilst urging MPs to stop bickering on racially sensitive issues.

He said there is a need to put an end to all negative elements as well as irresponsible actions that threaten the essence of peace, well-being of the people and stability of the nation.

"Championing the rights of marginalised groups should not be looked upon as discrimination but an effort to establish social justice that is long overdue," he said.

He said while progressing towards modernisation, religious duties and good moral values must be preserved, all parties including government agencies, NGOs and scholars must work together in finding solutions to curb social ills and negative elements that are affecting society.

The King urged MPs to take this opportunity to participate in healthy, mature and dynamic debates, to find and to uphold the truth by conveying ideas as well as criticise with wisdom and civility.

He also welcomed the Government's effort to enhance transparency among others, by fully disclosing the government's financial position and re-evaluating expenditure as well as practising prudent financial management.

The King also welcomed the government's move to abolish the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to curb the rising cost of living, stabilising fuel prices and extending the "Bantuan Sara Hidup" to ease the people's burden.

He reminded MPs that 15 million workers had significantly contributed to the nation's development.

"We hope that the workers will reap the reward from the introduction of initiatives such as establishing Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, standardising minimum wage and creating more jobs," he said.

The King said the contribution of women towards the nation was monumental in various jobs and skills and the role of women can be further enhanced.

He said proper measures should be instituted to tap their potential and talent so that they can further contribute to the nation and society.

Lastly, the King thanked the commitment of all those who contributed towards safeguarding and ensuring the security, peace and sovereignty of the nation that has helped the country progress.