Guan Eng demands answers on fines issued to public after July 21

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All Emergency ordinances promulgated this year can no longer be applied from July 21 onwards, said de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan.

“Ya, tak boleh pakai lah (Yes, it cannot be applied),” Takiyuddin (PAS-Kota Bharu) told Lim Guan Eng (PH-Bagan).

The government must explain how it will handle the fines issued to members of the public, after it announced its retrospective cancellation of Emergency ordinances, said Lim Guan Eng (Bagan-PH) in Parliament today.

“Will the government also cancel all the fines and punishments given out after July 21,” said the former finance minister in the Dewan Rakyat.

“As far as I know, fines are still being given out by the authorities,” said the Bagan MP.

Lim was responding to the sudden announcement by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Parliament) Takiyuddin Hassan (Kota Bahru-PN) earlier today that emergency ordinances had expired on July 21, which coincided with the last cabinet meeting.

Following pressure from the opposition lawmakers on why the government did not table the emergency ordinances for review, Takiyuddin said the government had already decided to cancel the laws it had enacted, as of July 21.

He added that the government will also not seek to extend the current emergency when it expires on August 1.

Following the cancellation, Takiyuddin said there was no need to table the declaration of emergency and its ordinances in Parliament, although Article 150 (3) of the federal constitution states that all laws as such must be brought to Parliament for approval, even in retrospect.

The minister’s sudden announcement has also left more unanswered questions as the government decision has not yet been gazetted.

“As it is, the government has not explained anything,” said Lim.

“Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin should explain this to us,” said the DAP leader when the prime minister was reading his statement on the national recovery plan in Parliament today.

Lim also asked if the government had presented the cancellation of the Emergency laws to Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.

Following months of public pressure, the government decided to hold a “special meeting” for MPs from July 26 to August 2.

Although the King in June had decreed Parliament should meet as soon as possible, the government has delayed a formal scheduled sitting until September 6.

While MPs are allowed to ask questions to the government, there will be no voting as the government has not put any bills on the agenda.

Muhyiddin is widely believed to have lost his majority in Parliament after Umno withdrew its support for the Bersatu president on July 8.

As of 1pm today, there are no federal gazettes on the Attorney-General Chambers’ website indicating that the emergency ordinances have been revoked.

There are two key ordinances with punitive measures.

Emergency (Essential Powers) (No 2) Ordinance 2021 allows the authorities to penalise “fake news”.

Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases)(Amendment) Ordinance 2021 allows for a penalty of up to RM100,000 and seven years’ jail for breaching Covid-19 protocol.

Without having to vote on the emergency ordinances, the Perikatan Nasional government has potentially saved itself from losing a vote, given that many of its members were absent today.

Some of the opposition MPs said the emergency ordinances must be annulled through Parliament as required by Article 150(3).

However, Azhar accepted Takiyuddin’s explanation and thus told the opposition MPs that Article 150(3) did not apply.

Gobind: Mr Speaker, according to Article 150(3), the decision on whether to extend the (validity) of the emergency ordinances belongs to the House. This is clear.

Azhar: Tak betul (not true).

Gobind: It is there. Allow me to read it. A proclamation of emergency and any ordinances promulgated under 2B, shall be laid before the House…

Azhar: Unless revoked earlier…

Gobind: Yes. Unless it is not revoked, it shall cease to have effect if resolutions are passed by both Houses.

Azhar: Unless revoked earlier…

Lim Guan Eng: When? When was it revoked?

Azhar: Let’s not argue. Article 150(3) states that unless revoked earlier, it can be annulled by both houses.

Earlier, Takiyuddin explained to the House that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has received consent from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to convene a special Dewan Rakyat sitting.

This has major significance because opposition MPs have been arguing that the sitting does not fulfil the decree by the Agong that a sitting is held to debate the proclamation of emergency and emergency ordinances, among others.

Under Parliament rules (Standing Order 11), the order of business for special sittings is the sole prerogative of the prime minister.

“Documents speak louder than words,” said Takiyuddin, while showing the House a letter by the prime minister to the Dewan Rakyat speaker instructing for a special sitting.

Takiyuddin also assured the House that the executive does not intend to advise the Agong to issue any new proclamation of emergency.

This again has major significance because once the emergency expires on Aug 1, the laws suspending elections for the Sarawak legislature – which expired on June 6 – will no longer be in effect.