Parliament may convene during emergency, says King

The statement was issued after the King met Rais and Azhar yesterday


PARLIAMENT may convene during the emergency period, said Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah (picture).

In a statement released by the palace Comptroller of the Royal Household Datuk Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said paragraph 14(1)(b) of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 gives the King discretion, on the advice of the prime minister (PM), to convene, prorogue or dissolve Parliament.

“As such, the perception of some parties that the emergency proclamation suspends the Parliament sitting is inaccurate,” he said.

The statement was issued after the King met with Dewan Negara speaker Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim and Dewan Rakyat speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun yesterday.

“During the audience, the Agong had stressed that in Malaysia, as a nation that practises the democratic system based on the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution, all branches of the nation’s administration, regardless whether it is the Executive, the Judiciary or the Legislature, must always abide by the principle,” Ahmad Fadil said.

He said the King consented to the emergency proclamation on Jan 12 purely for containing the Covid-19 pandemic that has claimed more than 1,000 lives in the country so far.

PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had said on Jan 12 that there would be no Parliament or State Legislative Assembly sittings until a time set by the King.

He also said the civilian government will continue to function and that the state of emergency was not a military coup and no curfew would be enforced.

During the period, he said, the King would be able to proclaim any ordinance needed according to circumstances including to take over private hospitals’ assets, human capital, expertise, laboratories and utilities to relieve the burden on government agencies.

The PM had also assured that the judiciary would continue to function and that the government would not interfere.

In response, the Opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council called Muhyiddin to reconvene the Dewan Rakyat sitting in March as per schedule.

“We will fully support His Majesty’s desire to restore the Parliament’s position in playing an important role in the Malaysian Constitution, highlighting the issues and problems faced by the people in an effort to curb the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as planning measures to revive the country’s economy,” PH presidential council said in a joint statement yesterday.

Additionally, Umno information chief Shahril Sufian Hamdan said the King’s statement is in line with the aspiration to preserve the role of “legislative oversight” or check and balance by the MPs.

“This also proves that His Majesty prioritises the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution and every branch of the country’s democratic system must abide by that principle — including the Government of Malaysia (Executive),” he said in a statement.

In recent weeks, various parties have called for Parliament to convene including deputy Dewan Rakyat speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

In a letter dated Feb 17 addressed to the Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun, Azalina questioned the suspension of Parliament, saying she was “bewildered” over the lack of efforts to facilitate Parliament sittings.

“Being an MP who has served for approximately 17 years now, I am bewildered as to how and why we are unable to and or refuse to employ means in the ordinance to facilitate Parliament sittings like other nations have,” she said.

Prior to that, 90 parliamentarians from the South-East Asian region expressed concern over the suspension of the Parliament, stating that this could have led to long-lasting implications on the country’s democracy.

Read our previous report here

Azalina calls for Special Emergency Cabinet