Kuala Lumpur 16 June — The Yang di-Pertuan Agong today said that a Parliament sitting should be held as quickly as possible, hours after a special meeting with the Malay rulers at Istana Negara.
“After refining all views from political leaders, the Independent Special Committee and the presentations by experts from government agencies, His Majesty is of the view that a Parliament sitting should be held as soon as possible.
“This is to allow the emergency ordinances and National Recovery Plan to be debated in the Dewan Rakyat,” said a statement by the Comptroller of the Royal Household, Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin.
It said Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah had also underscored the need for a strong and stable government that can function effectively in addressing the spread of Covid-19 and restoring the economy.
“His Majesty is very aware of the role of Parliament as an important platform for the people’s representatives to meet to discuss issues particularly related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Members of the Dewan Rakyat can discuss the allocations for government expenditure to help the people who are in need and to restore the country’s economy,” it said.
Parliament sessions have been suspended since January under the state of emergency declared to help curb the spread of Covid-19.
Putrajaya said on June 4 that it was considering a hybrid system for Parliament proceedings involving a combination of physical and virtual attendance by lawmakers.
Law minister Takiyuddin Hassan said more detailed studies would be done and a report presented as soon as possible for the deliberation and approval of the Cabinet.
The possibility of a virtual parliament sitting had been raised by Azalina Othman Said, the deputy speaker of the Dewan Rakyat.
On May 27, she had questioned the prolonged suspension of parliamentary sittings and made several recommendations to facilitate the virtual convening of Dewan Rakyat, saying the pandemic was for the long run.
Opposition politicians from Pakatan Harapan meanwhile have initiated legal proceedings against the government, seeking declarations that the emergency is unconstitutional.
In April, several opposition MPs joined hands with six NGOs to seek a court declaration on the roles of Parliament and the judiciary, including to state whether the cancellation of parliamentary meetings could be challenged in court.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, in announcing the four-phase National Recovery Plan yesterday, had said that Parliament might reconvene in the third phase, in September or October, subject to compliance with strict SOPs.
“This has always been my stance that the parliamentary democratic system functions again at a suitable time, that is once Covid-19 cases are well controlled and when we are close to achieving herd immunity,” he said.