Convene Parliament soonest, says King

The Rulers say the only exit strategy to end the pandemic is through mass vaccinations and herd immunity, and a stable govt with majority support of the people


THE King, with the full backing of the Conference of Rulers, has asked that Parliament be reconvened as soon as practicable and that the current Emergency be lifted once it runs out.

The Rulers said the only exit strategy to end the pandemic is through mass vaccinations and herd immunity, and a stable government that has a majority support of the people.

Keeper of the Rulers Seal Tan Sri Syed Danial Syed Ahmad released a statement after a special meeting of the Rulers in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The meeting came after Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah granted audiences to 18 political leaders, including Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, seeking their views on how best to handle the worsening Covid-19 pandemic and its economic fallout.

Opposition leaders requested that Parliament be allowed to reconvene and that the current Emergency would not be extended past July 31.

The Rulers said it is vital that the country’s check and balance mechanism between the executive, legislative and judiciary be honoured, and that the country needs a transparent and accountable administration for the sake of the people, especially with regards to national spending and finances.

“In that spirit, the Rulers concurred with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong who decreed that the Parliament should reconvene soonest,” Syed Danial said in the statement.

The Rulers also agreed that State Legislative Assemblies be held as soon as possible.

They also said the national vaccination programme needs improvement.

The Rulers also collectively viewed that the vaccination programme should be improved to gain support from the people, without the perception of it as a hidden political ploy, and the political temperature needs to cool down, among others.

In a separate statement, a Palace spokesman said the King viewed that vaccination is the only exit strategy to contain Covid-19.

Sultan Abdullah also felt that there must be a stable and strong government to function effectively to handle the Covid-19 pandemic and recover the national economy.

Sultan Abdullah chaired the Conference of Rulers’ meeting yesterday.

The meeting also heard input from several top civil servants such as the Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali, Chief of Defence Forces Tan Sri Affendi Buang, IGP Datuk Seri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani and Health DG Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

Prior to the Rulers’ meeting, political leaders had tabled various proposals to the King, including not extending the Emergency period beyond August, Parliament re-sitting and a much radical idea was the formation of an Emergency administrative body similar to the National Operations Council, also known as Mageran, during the Emergency in 1969.

One day ahead of the rulers’ meeting, Muhyiddin unveiled the four-phase National Recovery Plan. This exit strategy includes his commitment to reopen Parliament in September or October under Phase 3.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia geostrategist Assoc Prof Dr Azmi Hassan said the Conference of Rulers meeting could signal that the sultans are on top of the situation and really understand the need to reconvene Parliament and that to resolve the pandemic requires support from all people, including the politicians.

“To reconvene the Parliament or not, it is up to the government to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. So, let’s not put the burden on the Conference of Rulers since they have limited Constitutional discharge to perform what the general population wishes,” Azmi told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Assoc Prof Dr Rusdi Omar said there is a need to set up two distinct special councils — on health and economy — and both involve more subject matter experts, fewer politicians.

“It is not impossible for a change in Cabinet or even government to happen if political leaders are still unable to work together,” Rusdi told TMR.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia senior lecturer (political study) Dr Mazlan Ali said a form of compromise between the government and Opposition could be proposed either through a government or a task force that includes all Opposition leaders to specifically address  Covid-19.

Yesterday, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said the Rulers have a duty at this crucial moment of the nation’s life to assume an important Constitutional role arising from the Oath that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has taken before the Rulers who elected him to represent them.

He said the role is inherent in the Oath, adding that this is to rise above personal interest, political parties and personal considerations to seek a leader who has the capability, ability, vision and depth of understanding of the present situation to lead a government that can take the nation out of the dire situation.

He said the Dewan Rakyat had suffered three disabilities: Partially dysfunctional due to MPs with conflicting financial interests, hung with no majority and a significant number of MPs in breach of the Constitution on how they were elected.

“We either rise to the occasion and solve it or fail and fall,” he said.