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Friday, July 30, 2021

Covid-19 to derail next Monday's Dewan Rakyat sitting?


Following the drama over the past four days, anticipation is high for the fifth and final day of the special Dewan Rakyat sitting which is scheduled for next Monday. However, it is uncertain if the sitting would proceed as planned.

One source close to Putrajaya told Malaysiakini that the special sitting could be cut short due to Covid-19 cases among lawmakers.

According to another source, the cabinet would wait for the Health Ministry's report on the outbreak in Parliament before making a decision.

At present, a source familiar with Parliament affairs said there is no instruction to stop the sitting.

Earlier today, Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah revealed that 11 individuals were confirmed positive for the virus after all MPs and Parliament staff were screened over the past week.

Under normal circumstances, Parliament rules dictate that to adjourn a sitting, a member of the House must move a motion.

This would be seconded and put to a vote. A quorum of 26 MPs is required for this process.

However, there is a special provision known as Standing Order 100, which allows the speaker to decide on matters not explicitly covered by the rules - such as a virus outbreak.

According to the Dewan Rakyat order paper, the only agenda left for the special sitting is for Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz to be quizzed by the MPs and for Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to brief the House on the proclamation of emergency.

On July 27, speaker Azhar Azizan Harun also made a ruling that de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan is to brief the House on the revocation of the emergency ordinances.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister's Office partly completed the task for Takiyuddin.

It was established that on July 27, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was advised by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin during an audience to revoke the ordinances.

The Agong, in a statement from the palace, expressed disappointment that Takiyuddin and Attorney-General Idris Harun failed to fulfil their promise to the Agong to have the matter debated in Parliament.

Should Parliament not be allowed to continue with the special sitting, the move would rile up Perikatan Nasional's critics who are arguing that the prime minister had committed derhaka (treason).

This was because the Agong specifically decreed for Putrajaya to ensure the ordinances are debated and annulled through Parliament.

Putrajaya argued that the law does not require them to do so and that the Agong was legally bound to act on the advice of the cabinet.

If the sitting on Monday is indeed put off, then the MPs would have to wait until the next scheduled sitting of Parliament to begin on Sept 6 to grill the government.

It would also mean that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's motion for a no-confidence vote against the prime minister would hit a brick wall.

Anwar had accused the government of attempting to obstruct the sitting and described the Covid-19 lockdown yesterday as a ruse.

The September sitting would be the first official sitting of the year and would commence with the Agong's royal address. - Mkini

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