Government should adopt an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach in the invisible war against Covid-19 pandemic with Parliament and administration of justice regarded as “essential services”

One question uppermost in everyone’s mind after the announcement by the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday on the conditional movement control order (CMCO) and the easing of restrictions beginning on Monday is that the government has yet to adopt an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach if the invisible war against the Covid-19 pandemic is going to be successful in Malaysia.

This is why Parliament and the administration of justice should be declared “essential services” before Monday in the Covid-19 pandemic, and the government should allow a full-meeting of Parliament instead of a ridiculous one-day sitting on May 18.

At the one-day sitting of Parliament on 18th May, there will only be the delivery of the Yang di Pertuan Agong’s royal address and the presentation of government bills for first reading.

Debates for the traditional motion of thanks and on the government bills presented on May 18 have been pushed off to the July meeting of Parliament scheduled for 25 days from July 13 – August 27, 2020.

If the one-day sitting of Parliament is held, then Malaysian MPs will be creating world parliamentary history as the first Parliament where MPs meet but cannot speak, as they are expected only to be dumb!

In the July meeting of Parliament, the traditional 12-day debate on the motion of thanks for the royal address has be slashed to eight days, with the eight-day debate by MPs halved to four days, followed by four-day replies by Ministers.

This is most ridiculous and unacceptable. It is the four-day replies from Ministers which should be slashed instead of the eight days of debate from the backbenchers.

The Prime Minister should restore the full meeting of Parliament from May 18, where MPs have the opportunity to articulate the views and grievances of the people, especially during the MCO when Parliament meets.

In the meantime, preparations should be made so that virtual proceedings of Parliament and Parliamentary Select Committees could be held when Parliament reconvenes on May 18.

The Covid-19 pandemic is now widely considered more threatening than any other recent viral epidemic. Most believe that many more have been infected or even died than officially confirmed.

Globally, the number of Covid-19 infections have nearly reached 3.4 million while the global death toll is near 240,000.

We must ensure that the Covid-19 lockdown is not also an economic knockout for Malaysia.

This necessitates an “all-of government” and “whole-of-society” approach, to rally support, solidarity and unity for the actions by the government in the invisible war against the coronavirus.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri