In his live telecast, Muhyddin addressed all sorts of issues except the “elephant in the room” – the lockdown of Parliament

In his live telecast yesterday announcing the replacement of the conditional movement control order (CMCO) by the recovery movement control order (RMCO) on Wednesday till August 31, the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, addressed all sorts of issues except the “elephant in the room” – the lockdown of Parliament and the crippling of the constitutional role of Members of Parliament to provide parliamentary oversight and scrutiny of the government to ensure quality of governance during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Prime Minister spoke about a variety of subjects like barber shops, hair saloons, beauty parlours, pubs, nightclubs, karaoke centres, entertainment outlets, theme parks, public swimming pools, rugby, wrestling, boxing, football, basketball and hockey, but he strenuously avoided the subject of Parliament, which had been locked down for over three months except the for the one-day sitting of Parliament on May 28 which did not last even an hour.

Is the RMCO going to be an excuse for the July meeting to be cancelled altogether?

According to the Perikaatan Nasional government’s thrice-revised parliamentary calender, the Dewan Rakyat is to meet for 25 days from 13th July to 27th August – eight days are allocated to the Motion of Thanks for the Royal Address (the debate by backbenchers halved from the traditional eight days to four days), 11 days for the debate on the 12th Malaysia Plan and six days for government business including bills.

Although the Cabinet decided in early May to postpone the tabling of the 12th Malaysia Plan in Parliament till next year, MPs and the Malaysian public have not been informed of this Cabinet decision and MPs are left wondering whether the July/August meeting of Parliament will be cancelled until the 2021 Budget meeting scheduled to begin on 28th September 2018.

Muhyiddin should be aware that Malaysia has the dubious honour of being the only country which had locked down Parliament during the Covid-19 pandemic to paralyse parliamentary oversight and scrutiny of the Executive.

Is Muhyiddin competing with the Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, for infamy during the Covid-19 pandemic, as Brazil removed from public view months of data on its Covid-19 epidemic after becoming the world’s second country with the largest number of coronavirus infections.

Since Malaysia imposed the movement control order on March 18, there had been global developments in the pandemic, as seen by the current list of the 15 worst-affected countries worldwide with over 100,000 confirmed cases, viz:

  1. US: 2,007,232 (Deaths: 112,469)
  2. Brazil: 691,622 (Deaths: 36,499)
  3. Russia: 467,673 (Deaths: 5,859)
  4. United Kingdom: 287,621 (Deaths: 40,625)
  5. India: 257,486 (Deaths: 7,207)
  6. Spain: 241,550 (Deaths: 27,136)
  7. Italy: 234,998 (Deaths: 33,899)
  8. Peru: 196,515 (Deaths: 5,465)
  9. France: 191,102 (Deaths: 29,158)
  10. Germany: 185,750 (Deaths: 8,685)
  11. Iran: 171,789 (Deaths: 8,281)
  12. Turkey: 170,132 (Deaths: 4,692)
  13. Chile: 134,150 (Deaths: 1,637)
  14. Mexico: 117,103 (Deaths: 13,699)
  15. Saudi Arabia: 101,914 (Deaths: 712)

No country had over 100,000 Covid-19 confirmed cases on March 18.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro, who had played down the dangers of the pandemic, lost two Health Ministers in four weeks, replaced medical experts in the Health Ministry with military officials and hobbled the country’s public health response to the pandemic, has many things to hide.

In fact, when Malaysia imposed the movement control order on March 19, Brazil was in a comparatively better position with 529 confirmed cases as compared to Malaysia’s 790 confirmed cases. Now Brazil is the world’s No. 2 with the most number of Covid-19 infections, nearly reaching 700,000 cases.

What is Muhyiddin hiding with his persistent parliamentary lockdown compared to Bolsonaro’s failures in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri