Parliament ends early on Covid-19 fears

The MoH has advised for the meetings to be shortened as the Parliament building has been identified as a high risk area



THE first day of Parliament ended early at 1pm yesterday as a measure to curb the spread of Covid-19 due to a detected positive case involving a Dewan Negara special officer.

Law Minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said the reduced hours will not affect the rights for MPs to debate and it will not shorten the duration for the tabling of Budget 2021 which will be on Friday.

“According to the Parliament Standing Order 12(1), I suggest for the meeting today to adjourn at 1pm and resume at 10am tomorrow,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

The Kota Baru MP said the matter was discussed during a special meeting chaired by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun yesterday morning with all the party whips.

According to Takiyuddin, the motion was only applicable yesterday and if there is a need to adjourn the sitting at the same time today, a new motion will be tabled.

He added that the Ministry of Health (MoH) had also advised for the meetings to be shortened as the Parliament building has been identified as a high risk area.

On Sunday, Senator Ras Adiba Radzi had confirmed that her special officer, who is also her sister, tested positive for Covid-19. She is currently receiving treatment at Sungai Buloh Hospital.

“For everyone’s information, myself along with 10 other family members are waiting for our Covid-19 test results.

“I would like to apologise if this has caused trouble to many parties,” she said in a statement.

The daily Parliament sitting, which runs from Monday to Thursday every week, usually begins at 10am and ends at 1pm for lunch break.

Debates then resume at 2.30pm until 5.30pm or beyond, if needed.

Following the passing of the motion in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, several MPs voiced their concerns.

Lim Guan Eng (Bagan-PH) had asked for clarification if the shortened hours will be implemented everyday until the current Parliament session ends on Dec 15, while M Kulasegaran (Ipoh Barat-PH) suggested for the sittings to be held virtually.

Meanwhile, Azhar Azizan had asked for MPs to set aside their political differences and unite in helping the government to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

He said this is to ensure the country’s harmony and safety, in line with the advice by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.

“I would like for all of you regardless of background, especially political ideologies, to set aside all differences and arguments, to unite and play your respective roles in helping the government curb the spread of Covid-19,” he said yesterday.

He added that safety measures have been taken by MPs from Sabah who had undergone or are still under 14-days quarantine before they can participate in the Parliament session.

“I hope all honourable members can obey the standard operating procedures while continue practicing physical distancing, wearing face masks and washing hands frequently or using hand sanitiser,” he added.