Dewan Rakyat extended to debate Act 342 next Monday

The extension is to enable the amendment bill on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease Act 1988 to be tabled and finalised in the Dewan Rakyat

pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

THE Dewan Rakyat have been extended until next Monday, Dec 20, 2021, for the tabling and debate on the proposed amendments to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease Act 1988 (Act 342).

The current session was scheduled to end yesterday but Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun said Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had approved of the extension in line with Standing Order 11(2).

“The PM has agreed to add another day for the Dewan Rakyat in accordance with Standing Order 11(2) to Monday Dec 20, 2021, to enable the amendment bill on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease Act 1988 to be tabled and finalised in the Dewan Rakyat.

“A notice will be given to all MPs,” he said in the August house yesterday.

The announcement led to an uproar as MPs claimed they have made plans to visit their respective constituencies next week.

Pokok Sena MP Datuk Mahfuz Omar questioned the need to table the bill in the current sitting and rushed its process.

“We have organised activities to meet people on the ground in our respective constituencies since we have missed so many programmes.

“I am very disappointed with this decision. Why can’t we postpone the tabling of the bill to the next Parliament sitting. Why must it be done in a rush, as if we are doing this at a ‘mamak’,” said Mahfuz.

The bill was tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday. It proposes a maximum fine of RM1 million on companies and organisations, and up to RM10,000 on individuals who flout the standard operating procedures.

Health DG Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had previously said these amendments are needed now to prepare for the next possible Covid-19 wave.

In a joint press conference with Opposition leaders after the announcement, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (picture) said discussions were held yesterday between Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar, Dr Noor Hisham and party leaders on the need to postpone the tabling of the bill.

The reason for the postponement is to make way for the select committee to convene on Monday at 8am before the bill is tabled in the Dewan Rakyat at 10am.

“This shows there are flaws with the bill. We need time to examine every aspect of the proposed amendments because the proposal was brought in for a first reading on Tuesday.

“What we want to focus on is the RM10,000 fine on the rakyat which will burden them and is not acceptable,” said Anwar.

He added the term “companies” in the amendments are vague and requires further examination before it is tabled.

DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng said the proposed amendments reflect the government’s move to point fingers at the public for its inability to manage the pandemic.

“Do not blame the people, do not burden them because this would not solve the problem.

“These efforts are being implemented to blame the people when we think the government should be held responsible for it,” he said.

Amanah president Mohamad Sabu said he is doubtful of the implementation of the bill which is being rushed.

“I also doubt the government will implement it in a fair manner,” he added.