KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — The upcoming Parliamentary meetings announced by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) are “most improper and unconstitutional”, said the Democratic Action Party (DAP)’s Lim Kit Siang on Tuesday (6 July).
The Iskandar Puteri Member of Parliament (MP) made his statement following the PMO’s announcement on Monday that the Dewan Rakyat will reconvene for five days from 26 July until 2 August, while the Dewan Negara will sit for three days from 3 August until 5 August.
Dewan Rakyat is the Lower House of the Malaysian Parliament, while Dewan Negara is the Upper House.
According to PMO, the meetings aim to brief MPs on the National Recovery Plan and to amend all laws and rules to enable Parliament sittings to be held in a hybrid format.
“Based on Clause (3) Article 150 of the Federal Constitution, all Emergency Proclamations and ordinances decreed upon by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament,” the statement read.
In his statement on Tuesday, Lim outlined four reasons as to why he is critical of the slated Parliamentary meetings.
The first problem with the scheduled meeting’s itinerary, he said, is that it did not include the royal address by the King to mark the opening of Parliament.
In parliamentary business, the first item of a restored Parliament should entail the royal address, where the King will outline the government’s policies for the rest of the year.
“When Parliament was restored on 20th February 1971 after an interregnum for 21 months of the National Operations Council’s rule because of an uncompleted general election and the 13 May 1969 riots in Kuala Lumpur, the first item of official parliamentary business after the oath-taking ceremony for MPs and the election of the Parliament Speaker was the official opening of Parliament with the Royal Address by the Yang di Pertuan Agong,” said Lim.
The short time frame of the scheduled meeting, he added, pales in comparison to the length of the debate on the Royal Address last year — 15 days in the Dewan Rakyat and eight days in the Dewan Negara.
“How can a five-day meeting in the Dewan Rakyat and a three-day meeting in the Dewan Negara be adequate for the restoration of Parliament?” Lim questioned.
Another problem with the scheduled Parliamentary meeting, said Lim, is that it contravenes Article 150 (3) of the Federal Constitution, which requires the Emergency Proclamation and Ordinances to be “laid before both Houses of Parliament”.
“This will be (a) violation of the Constitution if the Dewan Negara meets only on August 3 after the end of the emergency on August 1,” he said.
Lim also said that there are “many serious and urgent matters requiring parliamentary debate and attention” such as parliamentary reforms.
Such debates can ensure that Parliament will “play an important role to mobilise the nation in an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” strategy and approach to win the war against the COVID-19 pandemic”, he said.
Citing global COVID-19 statistics as of Monday, which placed Malaysia as the top 13th country in the world for daily increase of new COVID-19 cases and the top 12th country in the world for daily COVID-19 deaths, Mr Lim prompted the government to explain why Malaysia has become “one of the world’s worst performing nations” in managing the pandemic situation.
“Why is Malaysia doing so badly in the Covid-19 pandemic, when the daily increase of new COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 deaths in the United States yesterday dropped by over 98% and 99% respectively from their January peaks?” he questioned.
The government must promptly present a plan to ensure that Malaysia will not surpass one million COVID-19 cases and 10,000 deaths by 31 August — the date of Malaya’s independence from British colonial rule.
Malaysia should also not exceed 1.2 million cases and 11,000 deaths on its 58th anniversary of Malaysia Day. on 16 September, he added.
“There are also the challenges from the high COVID-19 death rates, (a) spiral (of) suicides, and the suffering and hopelessness of the people as evident in the response to the “White Flag” movement,” said Lim.
All of this is in addition to the long-delayed debate on the 12th Malaysia Plan 2021-2025, which Lim said is “already some eight months behind time”.
The Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, thus, should rectify the Parliamentary schedule for both Houses of Parliament in line with both the Federal Constitution and the respective Standing Orders of both Houses of Parliament, he said.
“It is a national relief that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is not facing any life-threatening situation and continue to make critical decisions while in hospital, but it raises the question of why he could chair the National Security Council (NSC) meeting from the hospital but not an emergency meeting of the Cabinet on the proper convening of Parliament “as soon as possible”,” Lim concluded.
The PMO earlier announced that Muhyiddin was hospitalised due to diarrhoea, which spurred hashtags such as #PMCirit and #KerajaanCirit on social media and garnered attention from international media.
He is expected to be discharged soon after being treated for a digestive system infection, said PMO.
Parliament last sat on 17 and 19 December last year for the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara respectively.