Govt pushes any debate on Emergency to September

by ASILA JALIL / pic by TMR FILE

THE government has put off any parliamentary debate over the revocation of its Emergency Ordinances (EOs) to a scheduled sitting in September.

The validity of the revocation, announced by de facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan in Parliament last Monday, became contentious after the King said last Thursday he had not endorsed the move.

The special session of Parliament was suspended for the rest of the day due to Covid-19 precautions, which has since been extended for the next two weeks.

Opposition MPs have accused the government of suspending the sitting to avoid any votes in the lower house that could test support for the current administration.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in a statement yesterday said any provisions requiring the King’s consent to revoke the Emergency laws “has been made academic following the end of the Emergency Proclamation on Sunday”.

He said the process to revoke the Emergency laws, as advised by the Cabinet to the King on July 23, “could not be completed”.

“With the end of the Proclamation of Emergency on Aug 1, 2021, based on the provisions of the Federal Constitution, the repeal of EOs by His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong no longer arises.

“Therefore, in line with the King’s decree and Article 150 (3) of the Federal Constitution, a motion to discuss and further dismantle the EOs can be brought to the Parliament meeting scheduled to take place in September 2021.”

The PM added that the motion will be discussed in the Cabinet meeting today.

Experts believe the PM’s statement leaves room for doubt that the matter will be tabled at the next session of Parliament in September.

Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Dr Oh Ei Sun said the PM only stated that a motion to debate and repeal the EOs can be laid before Parliament, but stopped short of saying whether there will be a vote on it in the house.

“Everything is still premature at this point. It may or may not table it (the motion) even in September,” he told The Malaysian Reserve yesterday.

He said there is also doubt whether the motion will still be tabled if the government decides to reschedule the next Parliament sitting due to “unforeseen circumstances”.

Last Monday, Takiyuddin said the government had revoked all of the six EOs on July 21 following its decision to cancel it under Article 150(3) of the Federal Constitution. The announcement came as a surprise to the Opposition and some government MPs as well.

Two days later, the Palace issued a statement that the King had not consented to the revocation of the EOs, which were done without a debate in Parliament but through a Cabinet meeting on July 21.

According to the palace, Takiyuddin and Attorney General Tan Sri Idris Harun had a virtual meeting with the King on July 24, where they had agreed to table and debate all the proposals to rescind the EOs in Parliament.

The five-day special parliamentary sitting, which was convened to allow the government to brief the lawmakers on their efforts in handling the Covid-19 pandemic, was cut short to only four days after 11 positive cases were reported at the Dewan Rakyat last Thursday.

The special Parliament sitting, which was supposed to resume Monday, was postponed indefinitely.

This led to a gathering of Opposition lawmakers on Monday on the road leading to the Parliament building as a protest towards the postponement of the sitting.

In a statement yesterday, Pakatan Harapan presidential council said by blocking MPs from entering the Parliament, the government had violated an order issued by the Dewan Rakyat to the IGP.

The council cited a motion submitted by Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin dated July 13, 2020, during the commencement of the second parliamentary sitting which stated there shall be no obstructions for the members to enter or exit the Parliament.

“The act of threatening and barring MPs from exercising its power as an MP is wrong and violates Section 124 of the Penal Code, which is punishable by seven years in prison or fine.

“The Pakatan Harapan presidential council deeply regrets the action of directing and using the Royal Malaysian Police to prevent MPs from entering the Parliament,” said the council.

The statement was signed by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Mohamad Sabu and Lim Guan Eng.

The council said it has urged the MPs to lodge police reports to identify those who had issued the directions on Monday.