AG needs to answer on Emergency in Dewan Rakyat, Azalina says

This will also allow the AG to justify the rationale of the promulgation of Ordinances

by AZREEN HANI / Pic by TMR FILE PIX

DEPUTY Dewan Rakyat speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (picture) is asking for the Attorney-General (AG) Tan Sri Idrus Harun to be present in the upcoming special parliamentary session on Monday.

She said this is due to the fact that the MPs have unanswered questions on various matters, particularly on the promulgation of Ordinances during the Emergency.

“Presently, the AG is not legally required to answer directly to the Parliament. In lieu of that, who will justify the rationale of the Ordinances promulgated during the Emergency?” Azalina said in a statement yesterday.

“To allay doubts of potential conflict of interest on the AG’s conduct, any AG should be given the right to be heard in Parliament in person and not through a third party. So, how do we mitigate this in the future?” she added.

The Pengerang MP further stated that Article 145(2) of the Constitution states that it is the “duty of the Attorney-General to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Cabinet or any Minister on legal matters as chief legal advisor of Malaysia”.

“Seen in this light, the AG is NOT ONLY the legal advisor to the Cabinet but rather he is also the legal advisor to the King, which together with both Upper and Lower Houses, constitute Parliament,” she said.

“It is high time that the administration of this country considers reverting to having a MP as AG,” Azalina added.

To allay concerns about the AG’s tenure, she said Malaysia must restore the provision of having a tribunal before the AG can be removed just like pre-1963.

According to the government, the upcoming Dewan Rakyat sitting is to explain to the MPs about the National Recovery Plan, and amend all legislation and regulations to enable parliamentary sittings to be held hybrid.

“Pursuant to Clause (3) of Article 150 of the Federal Constitution, all Emergency proclamations and Ordinances made by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament,” it said in a statement earlier this month.

Additionally, Azalina urged the government to introduce a “motion for definite matter of urgent public importance” under Standing Order 18 to establish more parliamentary committees, be it in the form of ad-hoc special select committees, committees to consider legislation or even special select committees to oversee ministries.

“If ministerial responsibility was truly appreciated by those in power, it is perfectly reasonable to expect elected MPs to enquire and debate on all decisions that have been made during the emergency.

“Should MPs not be allowed to do their part to invest in finding ways to mitigate further catastrophic effects of the pandemic together with the government of the day?” she said.

Azalina noted that people may ask why she is making her recommendations public, but she said: “Well, I sometimes feel that no one ‘up there’ cares about what I have to say but I remain an optimist.”

“Last but not least, what then is a measure of a country if not through her people in freedom and justice?”