An opposition MP urged Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Azalina Othman Said today to arrange a virtual meeting among MPs while Parliament is suspended.
His call came after Azalina had called for the government to invest in holding a virtual Parliament session during the Emergency, saying there was no way for the country to move forward unless Parliament was allowed to reconvene.
In a statement, Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Tiong lauded her efforts but urged Azalina and other MPs not to wait for the government’s action any longer.
“Their actions (and inactions) in the past year have shown that the government cannot be relied upon.
Azalina Othman Said had said earlier that Parliament had to reconvene for the country to move forward.
“If the deputy speaker herself is unable to obtain an answer from the attorney-general and law minister, what chance do the other MPs and ordinary Malaysians have in keeping the government accountable?” he wrote.
“In many ways, this proposal is similar to the ‘Parlimen Digital’ initiative that was successfully organised by youth groups in July last year.
“The youth have shown us that it can be done. It is time for us to step up and continue the challenge.”
The DAP MP said the virtual session should be jointly organised by the deputy speaker’s office with the involvement of interested political parties and MPs.
He noted that participation by MPs would be on a voluntary basis.
He added that while the People’s Parliament session would be an informal alternative and would have no legal force, it would provide an avenue for MPs to debate and discuss critical matters.
“Ministers should also support and take part in the session. If not, shame on them,” he added.
Meanwhile, veteran opposition lawmaker Lim Kit Siang has fully endorsed fellow Johorean MP Azalina Othman Said’s proposal on how Parliament can be reconvened.
In a statement today, Lim endorsed all seven of 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,” Lim said.
Azalina is the first prominent Umno figure to propose a unity government as a solution to the problems arising from a government uncertain of a majority.
Commenting on Azalina’s letter, Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan said it was an “open secret” that there are those in government who are worried that they would be toppled through Parliament.
“Now that Azalina has proposed a way to avoid a no-confidence vote, we should reopen Parliament and allow MPs, regardless of their parties, to debate on current affairs and speak up for the people they represent,” Shahril said.