Just ‘ministers’ explanations’ on 5-day Parliament briefing

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Several MPs have criticised the proceedings planned for the highly anticipated parliamentary sitting beginning on July 26, after it emerged that the session would comprise nothing but five days of “explanations from ministers”.

Bernama

Photos of the schedule for the five-day sitting that were posted on social media show that all five days have been slated for the cabinet ministers to provide explanations.

“One minister a day will speak in the Dewan Rakyat,” the source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Malaysian Insight.

Health Minister Dr Adham Baba will give a briefing on the current Covid-19 situation in the country, which has claimed more than 6,600 lives since the pandemic hit Malaysia.

With regard to the Covid-19 National Immunisation Programme, the source said its coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin will give a briefing on its progress and future projections.

Defence minister Ismail Sabri Yaacob, who was recently promoted to the post of deputy prime minister, will brief the house on issues pertaining to the National Security Council and SOP to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan will touch on matters pertaining to the declaration of the Emergency and the promulgation of Parliament since January 11.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz will address the Dewan Rakyat on the various economic aid packages and the national recovery plan.

Dewan Rakyat secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin informed members of parliament that they will be allowed to interrupt the ministers during the briefing to ask for further clarification.

“The speaker will allow members of parliament to seek clarification during the briefing by the ministers,” Nizam said in a notice sighted by The Malaysian Insight.

He said this was in accordance with Rule 14(1) of the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat, which provides for the order of business at a Dewan Rakyat sitting.

Nizam said the briefing will touch on issues regarding the national recovery plan, the implementation of the Emergency, and the stimulus packages announced by the government.

Among the MPs who criticised the schedule is Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who described it as a disgrace.

“What is the Parliament’s function if MPs with their salaries in the tens of thousands only need to show up and hear ‘ministers’ explanations’? Where is our right to speak up and vote?

“We have been in lockdown for months but (Covid-19) cases still exceed 13,000. I’m paid by the rakyat; I must bring their voice,” Syed Saddiq said on Twitter last night.

Pekan MP Najib Abdul Razak questioned whether the government has trouble understanding the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s decree.

He noted that the Agong had decreed on June 16 that Parliament should convene as soon as possible to debate the National Recovery Plan and the Emergency Ordinances.

“If you just want to convene Parliament and give briefings for five consecutive days, then might as well record a video and upload it for us to watch on YouTube,” Najib said on Facebook yesterday.

Earlier that day, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun said the sitting from July 26 until Aug 2 is a “special sitting” and that a full sitting would be held from Sept 6 to 30. The Agong would officiate the sitting on Sept 6.

This would be followed by another sitting from Oct 25 to Dec 16.

Some MPs have already expressed concern that the July 26 sitting would merely be a procedural session to comply with the ruler’s demand, without any substantive debate – a concern that is likely to grow in light of the schedule.

Parti Pejuang Tanahair Malaysia (Pejuang) chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad had criticised the sitting as essentially a façade, and his party would reconsider its attendance at the sitting if no debates and motions are allowed.