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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

How soon is soon?


“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” -  Parkinson’s law.

“Time has transfigured them into/ Untruth […]” Philip Larkin: The Whitsun Weddings.

“Time wounds all heals.” - the Marx Brothers.

As soon as possible – that was the opinion conveyed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the resumption of parliamentary sittings so that MPs could debate emergency laws and the National Recovery Plan.

Such a prosaic term, yet it generated so much heat, thanks to the inherent slippery meaning of words. Dictionaries will give you a range of meanings and usage of a word, but off the page, the word mutates to mean different things to different people in the multiple discourses of our lives. “I say this; no, I didn’t say that. I meant this; that is not what I heard.”

De facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan took heat for his “timely” understanding of the royal term. He said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong did not specify an exact date for when the House should be called to session.

"Now we are near the end of June. There's July, then August and September is soon, we will have Parliament then," he said during an interview.

I can see where he is coming from. C’mon, every one of us, at points in our lives, swapping memories with relatives and friends, has said the cliché, “How time flies!” June is winding down, then July and August, and before we know it, pfftt, in a blink of an eye, as the Chinese colourfully say, it’s September. Patience.

Umno isn’t sitting still for this. Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has given the government two weeks' notice to reconvene Parliament. He said failure to do so would be construed as insolence towards the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Conference of Rulers.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Takiyuddin Hassan

Umno is such a democratic party now, the president was immediately reminded by Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob that he was only expressing the recommendation of the Political Bureau, and in terms of policy and decision making, it is up to the Umno Supreme Council.

Ismail Sabri also intrigues with a couple of queries: “The question is, if you don’t hold a sitting within the stipulated time frame, what will happen? What action will be taken?”

What will happen in a couple of weeks? Based on the track record of recent political bombshell duds, probably nothing.

Don't forget the monsoon

Zahid said, in his audience with the Agong, that Umno presented its position that it is of utmost importance for Parliament to reconvene soon so that the plight of those struggling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic could be raised, as well as to push for accountability in the Perikatan Nasional administration.

Putting yourself in front of the rulers and saying you will always be their champion and defender, fine, that’s a compulsory ritual. Mesti. Just as obligatory is the reference to the poor, suffering people. Must lah, after six decades of generous, benevolent Umno help, still so many poor people.

But to push for accountability in the PN administration? That’s rich. Since Umno is (technically, even if their almost daily broadsides against the government suggest otherwise) in the PN government till Parliament meets or till the next general election, what can we ask them to account for?

Grabbing his couple of minutes in the spotlight, Ayer Hitam Bersatu division chief Osman Sapian claims, as reported by Sinar Harian, that the general election may be called in the month of November or December, after Budget 2022 is tabled at the federal level.

Ayer Hitam Bersatu division chief Osman Sapian

He said Muhyiddin had indicated as such during a virtual meeting with Johor Bersatu on June 16.

“There is a huge probability that GE15 will be held at the end of the year, whether in November or December. Nothing is impossible because the previous general election was held after the Budget was announced.”

However, Osman added that it is possible that GE15 could also be held early next year, due to the monsoon.

Then he adds another proviso – elections will be held when the number of Covid-19 cases declines to the level targeted by the government, and when 60-80 percent of the population have been vaccinated.

Got it folks as to when elections will be held? Hey man, I am an insider. I’ve got the real dirt. It’s clear he knows what he is talking about… nothing. - Mkini

THOR KAH HOONG is a veteran journalist.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

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