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Sunday, May 30, 2021

Parliament speaker slams selective critics of emergency


Parliament speaker Azhar Azizan Harun has blasted those calling for Parliament to reconvene, saying that many who are criticising the current emergency appeared to be selective in their defence of the Federal Constitution in order to score political points.

Writing for news portal MalaysiaNow, he said the critics appear not to comprehend the concept of division of powers, as enshrined in the constitution.

“We shouldn’t blow hot and cold and accept whatever action when it benefits us or our aspirations or desires, only to shout and scream when those actions don't serve our interests.

“I do not feel the need for any political posturing or any desire to dive into any political maelstrom for the purpose of thrusting myself into political populism.

“Notwithstanding, I am now moved to explain a basic little thing which many of us profess to know in abundance but do little to understand, while some others do understand but elect to apply it only when it suits them.

“This little thing is known as the Federal Constitution,” said Azhar, who is also known as Art Harun.

Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Azalina Othman Said previously urged the government to reconvene Parliament, offering three suggestions including a possibility of a virtual sitting.

Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Azalina Othman Said

Azhar in his article argued that while the concept of separation of powers between the three institutions - the government, Parliament and the judiciary - was never followed to the letter in any country, the division of powers between the three institutions was still a legal principle that must be applied.

“That is why the courts cannot entertain any questions as to the validity of any proceedings of the Dewan Rakyat. In other words, in this situation, the courts do not have any source of law to do so.

“If the courts, in defiance of express provisions of the Federal Constitution, proceed to adjudicate on the validity of any proceedings of the Dewan Rakyat, that would then be against the law. That is because the courts have no source of law to do so.”

Azhar said it was normal for the three institutions of administration to intersect in each other’s domain, adding that arguments that the government had no right to stop parliamentary proceedings should be debated based on constitutional provisions.

The former Election Commission head, who was installed in a heated atmosphere following last year’s Sheraton Move, added that the ongoing emergency proclamation and the ordinances are actions taken under and pursuant to the Federal Constitution.

“They are backed and substantiated by valid and enforceable legal principles spelt out in the Federal Constitution just as the power of the courts to curtail and even reverse some of the actions by the executive.

“Whether we like it or not, that is the power of the cabinet or executive and that power has been exercised.”

Azalina is far from the only political leader calling for the reconvening of Parliament as veteran opposition lawmaker Lim Kit Siang has expressed full endorsement for her proposal on how Parliament can be reconvened.

In a statement, Lim endorsed Azalina’s suggestions, which included ways to avoid a “no-confidence vote” and various bipartisan approaches to tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am impressed with Azalina’s call, which qualifies her to be the speaker of the Dewan Rakyat.

“I am disappointed by the actual speaker, Azhar Azizan Harun, who has failed to uphold the rights, powers and position of Parliament... The speaker should provide leadership to defend Parliament’s rights, powers and privileges from encroachment and usurpation by the executive,” said Lim.

Azalina’s calls were also backed by leaders from Umno, Pejuang and Muda, among others. - Mkini

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