Azalina urges govt to let MPs help in Covid-19 fight by reopening Parliament

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Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker reiterates that Parliament must be allowed to reconvene as soon as possible.

Politicians should focus on the people and put the country first instead of trying to score political points, said Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, who urged lawmakers to unite to fight the pandemic.

Speaking at a webinar last night, Azalina, who is also Pengerang MP, said politicians must accept and provide criticism to fight the pandemic together.

“It’s as if when it comes to politics, everything is not allowed – friends are not allowed, talking is not allowed, even wanting to call is a frightening thing to do among all political parties. This is not what Malaysia is all about,” she said.

Azalina reiterated that Parliament must be allowed to reconvene and a ceasefire between political parties can show the public that the country was moving forward.

She said reopening Parliament will actually help the government in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic by increasing the rakyat’s understanding of pandemic-related policies as well as their trust in the government.

“Actually, I made the suggestion to reopen Parliament, even though the infection rate is still so high. It is because I think reopening the Parliament can help the government to alleviate pandemic issues – not just the virus element, but the rakyat’s understanding,” Azalina said.

The webinar, titled “Why Does Parliament Need to Convene During Covid-19” was jointly hosted by electoral watchdog Bersih and Malay daily Sinar Harian. Aside from Azalina, the other panellist was Subang MP Wong Chen, and it was moderated by political analyst Wong Chin Huat.

Azalina, who is the MP for Pengerang, said parliamentarians are accountable to their constituents and they can help explain the government’s pandemic-related policies to the rakyat.

“There is a lot of fake news, for example, related to the vaccine. When we want to ask, who do we ask? Who can answer? Who can give us confidence?

“In the parliamentary process, whether virtually or physically, in terms of the Constitution, an executive representative cannot run away from answering questions.

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“Whether the MPs agree or not, that can be debated, but they are obligated to answer questions,” she said.

Azalina also said the rakyat need to have high levels of trust in the government in order for the policies to be implemented smoothly.

The bipartisan meeting in which the Johor sultan called for all Johor MPs and state assemblypersons to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic was a good move towards constructive cooperation, Azalina said.

In a similar vein, Wong Chen said the rakyat have a trust deficit in the government currently, as it is not performing well in handling the pandemic.

In order to restore the rakyat’s trust and confidence in the government again, there is no choice but to reopen Parliament so that MPs can ask the government questions, Wong said.

“If the government functions well, even if there is an emergency, many people can accept it. But with the high infection rate every day, the rakyat cannot accept this.

“They have to open Parliament, they have no choice so that we, as MPs, can ask questions to assuage the rakyat and win back some trust from them,” he said.

When it comes to the possibility of some sort of political agreement amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Wong said he is open to the idea, but the ball is currently in the government’s court.

“The government has to show competency and legitimacy to rule. If they don’t have both and just use the emergency, then this country is doomed. It cannot go on like this.

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“What is important is we have to find a solution. You have supreme power now (under the emergency), you don’t have to answer anything to us.

“Our constituents ask us about the pandemic and we also feel, at some point, there is no more fun in making fun of the government. When people are dying, it is not good to attack or criticise.

“If you have power and you are not performing, come and talk to us. Tell us what your terms are. We are willing to help, but are you willing to accept our help?” the Subang MP added.


Related reports:

May 28, Calls for Azalina’s “7 parliamentary SOPs” to be adopted

May 27, Azalina urged to take the lead and convene virtual Parliament

May 27, Azalina moots unity cabinet, convening Parliament