Why have Parliament administrators not made any preparation for holding a virtual Parliament in the third wave of Covid-19 pandemic?

Why have the Parliament administrators not made any preparation for holding a virtual Parliament in the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia?

Is this because the Perikatan Nasional government has not given its approval for the Malaysian Parliament to hold virtual proceedings, as its overriding concern is how to suspend parliamentary proceedings and exclude parliamentary accountability and scrutiny using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse?

Actually, whether Parliament hold virtual proceedings should be solely decided by the Speaker and the House Select Committee, if the doctrine of separation of powers among the Executive, the Legislature and Judiciary is strictly followed in Malaysia.

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

I call on the special Cabinet meeting this morning to inform Parliament that it has no objection to Parliament holding virtual proceedings and to allow Parliament to go ahead to make preparations for the holding of virtual parliamentary proceedings.#

Parliament should be assured that the Cabinet will approve budgetary proposals for the holding of a virtual Parliament.

If there are virtual parliamentary proceedings, then the present ordeal of Sabah MPs who are quarantined in a hotel room for 14 days in Kuala Lumpur before they take the Covid-19 test so as to be able to attend the 27-day budget meeting of Parliament beginning on Nov. 2 could be dispensed with, as the Sabah MPs are virtually in “isolation detention” in their hotel room in Kuala Lumpur for 14 days.

The plight of the Sabah MPs who have to undergo “isolation quarantine” in a hotel room in Kuala Lumpur for 14 days is no different from Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees having to undergo isolation detention during their initial 60 days of their detention before the abolition of ISA.

Yesterday’s Covid-19 report by the Health Director-General, Noor Hisham Abdullah shows that we have yet to turn the corner in the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic as there was an increase in the daily number of cases in the previous 24 hours, despite a temporary respite the previous day.

The daily increases of Covid-19 infections throughout the country in the last seven days were: 847, 732, 862, 865, 871, 869 and 629 cases – averaging in the past week 810.7 new cases a day.

We must do our utmost to avoid reaching the four-digit figure for daily increases.

South Korea, which was regarded as one epicentre in the early period of the pandemic, never reached four-digit daily increase for Covid-19 cases, as it highest daily increase was recorded on March 3 with 851 cases.

The special Cabinet meeting today should focus on the Covid-19 pandemic as the government had been negligent in letting the third wave of the Covid-19 epidemic to be sparked off, with more than 1,000 school-children contracting Covid-19 infection.

The Cabinet should also channel all available resources to fight the pandemic in Sabah, as out of 8,183 active cases, 6,243 are from Sabah – a shocking percentage of over 76%!

The time has come for the Cabinet to take responsibility for Sabah skyrocketing from a cumulative total of 426 Covid-19 cases and eight fatalities on Sept. 1 to 9,868 cases and 76 fatalities as on Oct. 21.

The Prime Minister must instil in the Cabinet Ministers 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.

The following examples of government Ministers’ sabotage of “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach in the war against the Covid-19 epidemic must be raised and discussed in the Special Cabinet meeting as they are important lessons to be learnt by all PN government leaders:

  1. Double standards in the Covid-19 SOP with the case of the PAS Minister for Plantation Industries and Commodities Khairuddin Aman Razali who violated the Covid quarantine SOP but NFA decision by the Attorney-General’s chambers the most infamous example.
  2. Virtual absence of a Minister of Health to spearhead the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
  3. Sparking the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic because of a failed coup in Sabah resulting in a Sabah state general election.
  4. Sabah left to fend for itself although Sabah is now the epicentre of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  5. Discrimination against Pakatan Harapan State Governments, as exclusion from key National Security Council meetings on Covid-19 and the Federal Government refusing to share granular data on Covid-19 cases with the Selangor Task Force for Covid-19 (STFC).
  6. Confusing, slipshod and half-baked directives to the public during the Covid-19 epidemic, like the work-from-home directive which created chaos and was made without consultation with the stakeholders such as employer groups and worker representatives.

The special Cabinet meeting should launch an “all-of-government” and “whole-of society” campaign to end the third wave of the Covid-19 epidemic and ensure that the daily increase of Covid-19 infections does not reach a four-digit figure.

Who can be the Commander-in-Chief of this “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” campaign against the Covid-19 pandemic?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri