May 3, 2008 By CHRISTINA CHIN, NG SU ANN and ONG YEE TING
DRESSED in formal official attire, 40 Penang state assemblymen were sworn in yesterday in a simple two-hour ceremony.
The 29 Pakatan Rakyat and 11 Barisan Nasional elected representatives took their oath before Speaker Abdul Halim Hussain at the state assembly building on Light Street.
Earlier, Abdul Halim, a non-assemblyman from PKR, was elected Speaker while Machang Bubuk assemblyman Tan Hock Leong, also from PKR, was elected deputy Speaker.
Dressed in a Baju Melayu and songkok ensemble, Kebun Bunga assemblyman Jason Ong Khan Lee drew much praises.
“My girlfriend got me the kain songket and I had the black Baju Melayu made specially for this occasion,” he smiled.
“I just got a hair cut after more than a month of letting it grow,” he said.
For the album: Assemblymen getting ready for a group photograph.
Sporting a white collared blue shirt, Batu Uban assemblyman VS Raveentharan said he was dressed in PKR colours.
With his orange-framed glasses, polka-dot tie and blue shirt, he was by far the most colourful character in the assembly.
Several DAP leaders, including Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (Air Putih), Ng Wei Aik (Komtar), Law Choo Kiang (Bukit Tambun), Danny Law (Batu Lanchang) and A. Ta-nasekharan (Bagan Dalam), opted for ties in the party’s colour – red.
Among those present to witness the event were Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh, Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong and state PKR chief and Bayan Baru MP Datuk Zahrain Mohamed Hashim.
With hand raised: Lim taking his oath at the swearing-in ceremony.
Karpal Singh, who is also the DAP national chairman, was there to watch his son Jagdeep Singh Deo swear in as Datuk Keramat assemblyman.
He said he was “very proud” of his sons Jagdeep and Gobind (who was sworn in as Puchong MP recently).
“Each of them has his own talent and personality so I am very proud of them both. They may not have “teeth” as strong as mine yet, but with exposure and experience, I am sure they will also have my ‘bite’,” Karpal Singh said.
Asked what was his hope for his sons, Karpal Singh said he wanted them to be guided by their conscience.
“They must remember that their duty is to the constituents so they must speak up without fear if truth is on their side. That has always been my guiding principle,” he said.
Little bit of help: Lim helping to adjust Abdul Halim's attire.
Speaking to reporters later, Abdul Halim said the state assembly sitting proper would be held on a yet-to-be-determined date in July.
“I believe the sitting will go on smoothly and the proceedings will be interesting as there is a mix of new and experienced assemblymen.
“I want to promote healthy debates and I will be flexible when it comes to the time allowed for supplementary questions,” he said, adding that it was okay to criticise but it must be done constructively.
“I want everyone to make full use of his time in the assembly,” he said, promising to be fair in discharging his duties.
Although the Opposition members were expected to nominate their own Speaker and Deputy Speaker, Opposition whip Datuk Azhar Ibrahim said they did not do so as it was “pointless”.
“We do not want to waste time just for the sake of publicity,” he said.
During the event, the assembly observed a minute of silence as a sign of respect to former Speaker Datuk Ooi Ean Kwong who passed away on Dec 3 last year.