Parliament the best platform to debate Covid efforts


THE special parliamentary meeting, which convenes for the first time this year today, serves as a crucial platform for the government to convince the public of its efforts in managing the Covid-19 pandemic and keep them in the loop on the country’s current situation.

Universiti Utara Malaysia political analyst Prof Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said given the session will only last for five days, the public should be informed on the measures the government has taken to handle the crisis at hand and its effectiveness.

“The upcoming Parliament session is important for the government to convince the public on what they are going to do about the pandemic and also their success stories in managing it so far.

“They should let the Opposition bloc criticise any efforts or raise issues, but the government should use the platform to provide an explanation to any questions raised by the public throughout the pandemic,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

He said debates should be allowed during the session despite its limited timeframe because it would be “illogical” to convene a parliamentary meeting without having debates on current issues.

Mohd Azizuddin said the meeting will allow ministers to brief MPs on Covid-related activities throughout the Emergency period, followed by a question and answer session.

“The spotlight will be on the Emergency Ordinance where the Opposition might question the government whether the policies under the ordinance were effective in curbing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

He also brushed off the possibility of a no confidence motion against Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as the people’s livelihood takes precedence over politics.

“I am sceptical of it because it depends on the government’s party whip and Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat to allow for the motion to take place, which I do not think will happen.

“If any chaos were to happen, it may just be some Umno members deciding to sit on the Opposition’s bench but considering the current context, I do not think that will happen as well.”

Covid-19 infection figures crossed the one million mark yesterday as daily infections hit a new record high of 17,045.

The special parliamentary session will be held from July 26 to July 29 and on Aug 2, while the Senate will meet on Aug 3-5.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah had called for Parliament to reconvene after a meeting with the Conference of Rulers, as well as the heads of the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament.

Several political parties including Umno and Pakatan Harapan (PH) had also urged the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government to hold the Parliament session as its oversight during the current health crisis is necessary.

PH last week stated it won’t propose a no-confidence vote against the PM as it wants the sitting to focus on Covid-19.

Former PM and Parti Pejuang Tanah Air chairman Tun Mahathir Mohamad, however, warned should the session become a platform for the current government to explain its policies, its MPs may decide to leave the hall.

Political analyst Assoc Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi of University Malaya told TMR it would be difficult for MPs to push the vote of no confidence.

“It is hard for a vote of no confidence to take place because it depends on the speaker to be proactive or a minister to bring forward the motion and right now PN is in control.”

He said the session should include other vital issues adversely affecting the rakyat including education, which has been greatly impacted by the pandemic.

“This session should also discuss moratoriums without interests, small and medium entrepreneurs, as well as other relevant issues of public interest.”

Commenting on Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said’s suggestion for the attorney general (AG) to be present during the meeting, he said the latter’s presence is not necessary as Law Minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan can provide any answers regarding the Emergency laws.

Azalina had also called for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry on reforming the AG’s Chambers to demonstrate the government’s commitment to improve governance and uphold the rule of law.