Parties call for Parliament to reconvene

by ASILA JALIL / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

VARIOUS parties are urging the government to reconvene the Parliament as its oversight during critical circumstances is necessary.

In a statement yesterday, the Independent Special Committee on Emergency reiterated its view on calling for the Parliament to reconvene to ensure check-and-balance in governance amid the pandemic.

“Our position is that there is no need for the implementation of Emergency. Instead, stricter implementation of the Movement Control Order would be the best method.

“We are also of the view that the Parliament should reconvene soon as a check-and-balance mechanism in accordance with the principles of parliamentary democracy in our country,” said its members, Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution, Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and Anthony Loke in the joint statement.

The three of them who represent the Opposition bloc said they had conveyed their views to other members in the committee pertaining to the matters throughout the Emergency period.

Their views touched on various matters including the pandemic, vaccination, daily death toll, hospital equipment, the current economic situation and its impacts on the people’s livelihood.

The committee has yet to finalise the decision whether to continue or end the Emergency, which will be tabled to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin unveiled a four-phase national recovery plan which would see all economic sectors reopening by December and the Parliament reconvening as early as September or October.

“This is my position from the beginning that the system of parliamentary democracy can function again at an appropriate time, which is after the Covid-19 cases are controlled and we almost reach herd immunity,” he said in his speech.

The Malaysian Bar had also called for the Parliament to reconvene soon given that many issues need to be addressed.

Its president AG Kalidas said the suspension of Parliament and the various state assemblies’ sittings is not in the spirit of constitutional principles of democracy, separation of powers and the rule of law.

“The Malaysian Bar fully supports the idea of ‘hybrid’ sittings which would effectively allow Parliament to be convened partly virtually and partly through physical means. This is to ensure that Parliament can perform its purposes and serve the citizens at all times.

“It is especially during critical and urgent circumstances such as this global pandemic, that the scrutiny of Parliament is most necessary.

“The requisite checks and balances of a robust Parliamentary oversight is the very ‘inoculation’ that is needed to prevent any abuse,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Kalidas questioned the need for Parliament to be suspended when all members of Parliament have been or could have been vaccinated.

He also cited the UK as an example where its government had conducted hybrid parliamentary sittings during the pandemic.

“Indeed, the Westminster Parliament never stopped working, even throughout the darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK, and even though their members of Parliament were not prioritised and expedited for vaccination.

“So, the question that the government continues to be asked, and for which there has been no satisfactory answer, is why is the Malaysian Parliament different?” he said.