Azalina rejects call for special parliamentary session on emergency

by BERNAMA / pic by BERNAMA

DEPUTY Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (picture) has rejected a proposal by Umno secretary general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan that a special parliamentary sitting be convened with regard to the proclamation of emergency.

In the letter dated yesterday, Pontian MP Ahmad sought the cooperation of Umno and Barisan Nasional MPs to submit an agreement for the implementation of Article 150(3) of the Federal Constitution to hold a parliamentary session as soon as possible regarding the emergency proclamation and asked them to reply before 12.30pm today.

Azalina, whose reply to Ahmad has gone viral on social media, said as the deputy speaker, she is among the individuals who most prioritised and held firm to the principles of parliamentary democracy, but there are legitimate legal issues that needed to be considered in depth, before she could give her consent.

“More so because the issue touches on the power and discretion of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong under the Federal Constitution,” she said.

She said she had taken note that several court cases previously had ruled that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s decision to proclaim an emergency could not be challenged as it is provided for under Article 150(8) of the Federal Constitution.

Azalina said although the proclamation could not be challenged, she did provide some alternatives in her letter, among them a suggestion to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for a special bipartisan committee to be formed to advice His Majesty on matters pertaining to the people’s rights and freedom under the Federal Constitution.

She also said the agreement to form the Perikatan Nasional Presidential Council last year could also be used by Umno to channel whatever input, including any objections regarding government policies during the Movement Control Order (MCO) 2.0 and emergency.

“All Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara members from Umno, who are also members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group of Malaysia (APPGM) and Special Select Committees (JPK), could still play active roles so that APPGM and JPK activities could still be actively carried out and continued.

“This is because on Jan 12, the Dewan Rakyat Speaker (Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun) had announced that all activities of any caucus, APPGM or JPK that had been established can still continue.

“Any grouses and grievances of the people in their parliamentary constituencies can be brought to the attention of Umno ministers in the Cabinet meeting. This is because the Umno MPs still receive allocations from the government and have the freedom to travel interstate to their respective constituencies,” she said.

She also requested Umno representatives to be appointed soon to the independent special committee on the emergency to be formed as decreed by the King.

Azalina, who is also the MP for Pengerang, said other countries which declared emergency to curb the spread of Covid-19 had prepared earlier, among them by amending the rules of the meeting to allow for their Parliament sitting to be held online.

“This was not done in Malaysia in our previous session,” she said.

She stressed that Article 14(1) of the Ordinance that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong proclaimed recently provided that Parliament could only be convened at a time deemed fit by the King.

“As such, I feel that the possibility of His Majesty calling for a parliamentary sitting in the near future or cancelling the emergency is very slim,” she said.

“Based on these reasons, I respectfully reject and disagree with the application for consent on the issue as requested to support the Pontian MP.”