Jomo: Emergency does not automatically mean suspension of Parliament

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A proclamation of emergency does not necessarily mean Parliament has to be suspended, said Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram.

The honorary fellow of the Academy of Professors (APM) said based on historical context, there was never a suspension of Parliament due to an emergency, except during the May 13 racial riots in 1969.

“Parliamentary suspension during an emergency only occurred in 1969 and not in 1966 during the Sarawak emergency,” Jomo said in the “After Vision 2020: History and the Future of the Nation” forum organised by the APM.

Chronologically, the first prime minister, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, declared a state of emergency after the Indonesian military invasion in September 1964.

Sarawak declared a state of emergency on September 14, 1966, after 21 of 42 state reps declared they did not have confidence in then chief minister Stephen Kalong Ningkan.

Abdul Rahman also declared the suspension of Parliament in 1969 and this was followed by the establishment of the National Operations Council.

Kelantan declared a state of emergency on November 8, 1977, due to the political crisis in the state.

“During the 1964 general election, there was an emergency related to the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation, but Parliament was convened.

“It was also true during the emergency in Sarawak in 1966 and in Kelantan in 1978,” Jomo said.

Jomo said it is very important to clarify as there is a perception an emergency proclamation will automatically result in the suspension of the Dewan Rakyat.

“This is important to emphasise because some think Parliament itself will be suspended,” Jomo said.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin declared a state of emergency, effective until August 1, aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic.

Muhyiddin had said the emergency proclamation did not allow for Parliament and the state assemblies to sit until a time set by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

The prime minister’s decision was criticised by the opposition and several Umno leaders who said the proclamation was simply to keep Muhyiddin in power. – TMI