Opposition lawmaker "expelled" from Parliament for a week
- By Myagmardorj Buyanjargal -
- Aug 19,2020
On August 17, the vice speaker of Parliament, T.Ayursaikhan, chaired the plenary session in the absence of Speaker G.Zandanshatar, but things got sour when he expelled opposition party lawmaker B.Purevdorj for a week citing breach of session protocol.
Parliament started an irregular session on Wednesday to discuss numerous urgent matters, one of which is to amend the state budget. Purevdorj criticized the state budget amendment proposal during the session, claiming that the ruling party failed to amend the budget up until now due to election scheming to gain leverage.
He said the budget served the ruling party’s “election corruption.” Purevdorj supported argument by noting that after the temporary closure educational organizations, retrenchment was made from the special purpose transference cost of preschool education and general education organizations (10,000 MNT for every child up to 18 years old, 34.9 billion MNT in total for April, May, and June).
The lawmaker also noted the increased pension and welfare for children under 16 to 100,000 MNT per month, which cost the government 20 billion MNT in total for 67,300 people, including 10,600 children under 16, starting May.
While Purevdorj was making his comment, the vice speaker interrupted him and said, “Defaming others is restricted by laws, I am reprimanding you”.
When a lawmaker Munkhbat was making a statement, Purevdorj used another member’s microphone to say, “I didn’t defame, it’s on the statement of budget utilization of June 2020. Stop saying it’s defamation on the microphone.”
Things escalated quickly, whenAyursaikhan retorted back, “It was organized in accordance with the Law on Budget. (I am) depriving your right to participate in the session today, this week.”
The details of the conversation are important for understanding why depriving a lawmaker’s right to participate in Parliament’s sessions was a key moment that perhaps undermines democracy and sets harmful precedence.
When the previous Parliament revised the Law on Parliament Sessions, it did make regulations related to defamation. Article 13.10 regulates that “when asking questions and giving speeches, it’s prohibited to use rude words and sayings, defame others and their reputation, and to slander”. However, it has a very strict process.
Questions about the efficacy of “expelling” a lawmaker from the session may arise if you consider whether it is in the vice speaker’s power to state whether or not Purevdorj’s statement was defamation or slander, and this is followed by whether the vice speaker acted in conformity with the procedure specified in the law.
According to Article 18.1 of the Law on Parliament Sessions, the speaker has the power to take measures, to reprimand, to restrict speeches, and to restrict members from participating in the session if a member of Parliament breaking rules of the session.
Articles 18.2 to 18.8 of the Law on Parliament Sessions regulates exactly this scenario.
18.2. In case a member of Parliament asked a question not related to the matter in discussion or has spoken when they were not permitted to ask questions or give speeches, the speaker must stop their speech and reprimand and warn them about the next measures to be taken.
18.3. In case a member of Parliament did not fulfill the reprimand request, the speaker shall limit their rights to give a speech and shall prohibit them from giving speeches within that matter in discussion.
18.4. In case a member of Parliament interrupts others, or uses rude words and sayings when asking questions and/or giving a speech, defaming others and their reputation, or used words which have characters of slander, the speaker has the right to restrict them from speech for the day without reprimanding.
18.5. In case a member of Parliament has failed to fulfill the reprimand request from the speaker to follow the rules of the session and caused circumstances which could deter the normal process of the session by interrupting other members’ speeches and voting, the speaker may expel them from the hall.
18.6. The member of Parliament who is accountable for the responsibility specified in Article 18.5 shall be obliged to leave the hall immediately. In case the member of Parliament failed to do so, the speaker shall reprimand the member that such failure shall be a ground to extend the term specified in Article 18.5 of the law.
18.7. The member of Parliament whose right to participate in the session was deprived shall not enjoy the right to participate in the session.
18.8. In case a member of Parliament has interrupted the session by slandering the reputation of Parliament or a member of Parliament, or by instigating or provoking others, the speaker shall limit their rights to participate in the session for that day and expel them from the session hall.
In this case, it’s reasonable to believe that Ayursaikhan had skipped some precautionary measures, such as issuing a warning or request compliance with the session rules, before expelling Purevdorj. He did not give a proper reprimand to Purevdorj according to Article 18.1.
Expulsion is the last measure to be taken to prevent such serious interruption, according to articles 18.6 and 18.8. And of course, there are good reasons why it’s regulated so.
First of all, Parliament members represent the people of their constituency and it’s a constitutional right of the people, according to Article 16.9 of the Constitution of Mongolia, to be represented in the legislature. In fact, depriving a member of Parliament of the right to attend session could be violating the rights of the people, as per Article 23.1 of the Constitution, which states, “A member of Parliament shall be an envoy of the people”.
Furthermore, one of the supreme principles of the activities of the state shall be the ensurance and protection of democracy, Article 1.2 of the Constitution, and expelling an opposition party member without the proper due process sets a bad precedence for ensuring democracy in the nation.