#kerajaangagal159 – Four reasons why the parliamentary meeting scheduled by the government most improper and unconstitutional and the Cabinet meeting tomorrow should rectify it

According to the statement by the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday, the Dewan Rakyat will reconvene on July 26 for five days until Aug 2, and the Dewan Negara sit for three days from Aug 3 until Aug 5.

This parliamentary meeting schedule by the government is most improper and unconstitutional for four reasons and the Cabinet meeting tomorrow should rectify it.

Firstly, there is no provision for the Opening of Parliament with a Royal Address by the Yang di Pertuan Agong, as the last meeting of Parliament was in December last year – Dec. 17, 2021 for the Dewan Rakyat and Dec. 29, 2021 for Dewan Negara.

When Parliament was restored on 20th February 1971 after an interregnum for 21 months of National Operations Council-rule because of an uncompleted general election and May 13, 1969 riots in Kuala Lumpur, the first item of official parliamentary business after the oath-taking ceremony for MPs and the election of the Parliament Speaker was the official opening of Parliament with the Royal Address by the Yang di Pertuan Agong.

The debate on the Royal Address was delayed to allow the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 1971 to be debated and adopted.

The first item of parliamentary business of a restored Parliament should be the Opening of Parliament with a Royal Address by the Yang di Pertuan Agong laying out the government’s policies for the rest of the year.

Secondly, the five-day Dewan Rakyat and three-day Dewan Negara sittings are inadequate for a parliamentary meeting which must hold a debate on the Royal Address.

Last year in 2020, the debate on the Royal Address took 15 days in the Dewan Rakyat and eight days in the Dewan Negara. How can a five-day meeting in the Dewan Rakyat and a three-day meeting in the Dewan Negara be adequate for the restoration of Parliament?

Thirdly, the government schedule violates Article 150 (3) of the Constitution which requires the Emergency Proclamation and Ordinances to be “laid before both Houses of Parliament”. This will be violation of the Constitution if the Dewan Negara meets only on August 3 after the end of the emergency on August 1.

Fourthly, there are many serious and urgent matters requiring parliamentary debate and attention, including:

(i) Need for parliamentary reforms so that Parliament can play an important role to mobilise the nation in an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” strategy and approach to win the war against Covid-19 pandemic.

The government must explain why Malaysia was recently catapulted to be one of the world’s worst performing nations in the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is illustrated by yesterday’s Covid-19 statistics, which placed Malaysia as the top 13th country in the world for daily increase of new Covid-19 cases and the top 12th country in the world for daily Covid-19 deaths, viz:

(a) Daily increase of new Covid-19 cases on July 5, 2021:

  1. India - 34,067 cases
  2. Indonesia - 29,745
  3. United Kingdom-27,334
  4. Colombia - 25,366
  5. Russia - 24,353
  6. Brazil – 22,703
  7. Argentina - 17,277
  8. Iran - 16,025
  9. South Africa - 12,513
  10. Spain - 10,675
  11. Bangladesh - 9,964
  12. Iraq - 8,030
  13. Malaysia - 6,387

(b) Daily increase of new Covid-19 deaths on July 5, 2021

  1. Brazil - 754
  2. Russia - 654
  3. Argentina - 617
  4. Colombia - 570
  5. Indonesia - 558
  6. India - 552
  7. Bangladesh - 164
  8. Iran - 157
  9. Chile - 148
  10. Tunisia - 105
  11. Paraguay - 101
  12. Malaysia - 77

Why is Malaysia doing so badly in the Covid-19 pandemic, when the daily increase of new Covid-19 cases and Covid-19 deaths in the United States yesterday dropped by over 98% and 99% respectively from their January peaks. In Malaysia, we are facing peak cases, peak hospitalisation and peak deaths in the Covid-19 pandemic.

What are the plans to overcome these problems.

Equally important, let the government present a plan to ensure that Malaysia would not exceed one million Covid-19 cases and 10,000 deaths when we mark our 64th National Day on August 31 and exceed 1.2 million cases and 11,000 deaths on our 58th Malaysia Day anniversary on Sept. 16, 2021.

(ii) Urgent need for a new strategy and approach to win the war against Covid-19 pandemic, as illustrated not only by the Economist’s global normalcy index which placed Malaysia in the last 50th position out 50 countries but also the June 2021 Bloomberg Covid Resilience Ranking where Malaysia fell 35 places from its 16th ranking in January to 51st position in June, 2021 out of 53 economies of more than US$200 billion. There are also the challenges from the high Covid-19 death rates, spiral suicides and the suffering and hopelessness of the people as evident in the response to the “White Flag” movement.

(iii) Urgent need to debate the 12th Malaysia Plan 2021-2025 - already some eight months behind time.

The Cabinet meeting tomorrow should rectify the parliamentary schedule for both Houses of Parliament to comply with both the Constitution and the respective Standing Orders of both Houses of Parliament.

It is a national relief that the Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, is not facing any life-threatening situation and continue to make critical decisions while in hospital, but it raises the question why he could chair the National Security Council (NSC) meeting from the hospital but not an emergency meeting of the Cabinet on the proper convening of Parliament “as soon as possible”.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri