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Saturday, July 31, 2021

King and govt - why is dirty linen being washed in public?

 


The Emergency Ordinance 2021 was promulgated to ensure the public health was given priority over political uncertainties. It was consented to by His Majesty and came into force by His Majesty's will. 

Now, when His Majesty is of the opinion that the Emergency Ordinance that he promulgated ought not to be extended, His Majesty conveyed the message to the government of the day together with clear orders to reconvene the Parliament on the earliest date possible upon considering all the views by political leaders, the Special Independent Committee on the Emergency 2021 as well as experts and members of government agencies.

Why then did the government revoke the ordinance before the natural death thereof? The most logical and possible explanation is most likely to be that the government had naturally drawn an understanding that when His Majesty stated that he does not want the Emergency Ordinance to continue beyond its current term, His Majesty’s desire to revoke it was implied.

In a literal interpretation, it can be deciphered that His Majesty’s intention was to reconvene the sitting of Parliament as soon as possible.

However, when Parliament sits, His Majesty will not have a say on the ordinance any longer as its fate would be decided by the MPs.

Since the declaration of the Emergency Ordinance 2021 in January, our nation has been subject to immense political and economical instability, taking a grave toll on lives and livelihoods. The reconvening of Parliament presents our nation with the opportunity to recalibrate and realign the bearings and suspensions of our country that have unfortunately been interrupted.

However in view of His Majesty’s direction on June 29 whereby His Majesty had requested for the revocation of the Emergency Ordinance to be debated during the Parliament seating on Aug 2, unfortunately, represents a setback towards the rebuilding the stability of our nation.

In no way do I intend to undermine or indicate any form of disrespect towards the direction of His Majesty the Yang Dipertuan Agong, but however I state this on a factual basis. 

Due to the fact that His Majesty had previously announced that the Emergency Ordinance will lapse after Aug 1 and will not be extended, the need to hold a debate on Aug 2 will be highly superfluous as it will squander the time awarded for MP’s in Parliament to initiate protocols and procedure towards rebuilding the country.

Since the Emergency Ordinance will lapse on Aug 1 and be annulled, there should not be a need for MPs to be subjected to a lengthy harangue, when more appurtenant issues to the nations current situation need to be handled.

It is trite that the list of order papers for parliamentary sessions are set by the government of the day and not the constitutional monarch. Such a usurpation has never happened before and should not ensue now in view of our nation's stronghold on the doctrine of separation of powers.

Furthermore, this special sitting of the Parliament is primarily to debate on the Covid-19 recovery plan and to set further directions to handle the issues related to the pandemic and it was decided no motions or resolutions will be considered during this sitting.

We are now indeed treading on uncharted waters. The constitutional monarch began to play an active role in the executive although Article 40A(1) of the Federal Constitution expressly states that in the exercise of his functions under this constitution or federal law the Yang Di Pertuan Agong shall act in accordance with the advice of the cabinet or of a minister acting under the general authority of the cabinet, except as otherwise provided by this constitution; but shall be entitled, at his request, to any information concerning the government of the Federation which is available to the cabinet.

There is a mandatory requirement for His Majesty to act on advice or after considering the advice of the cabinet or the PM. However, we now have a situation where His Majesty is advising the cabinet on what to do. The activism by the monarch is much appreciated but the issue here is whether His Majesty’s orders are within the parameters of the constitution even though this is the ultimate check and balance the nation is seeking.

Be that as it may, each one of them (the king and the government) has a well-defined role to play. Why is dirty linen being washed in public causing a confidence crisis to the people who are already encumbered with a health crisis?

 Differences in views, if any, should not be debated in public but sorted out across the table. - Mkini


SA Vigneswaran is a former president of the Dewan Negara.

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

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