Kit Siang: Did MOH Really Advise Govt on One-Day Sitting?

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DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang wants the Health Ministry to state if it had really advised the government to hold a one-day parliamentary sitting.

The “sceptical” lawmaker has asked the Health Ministry to clarify if the decision to hold only one day of Parliament was at the ministry’s behest or advice.

He said this based on a statement by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Takiyuddin Hassan who said that the government’s conduct in handling the Covid-19 pandemic was guided, in part, by advice from the Health Ministry.

“Did the Health Ministry advise against the holding of parliamentary meetings, including virtual Parliament and select committee meetings, to exercise oversight and scrutiny of government measures in the Covid-19 pandemic, and propose instead a one-day meeting on May 18 just to comply with the constitutional requirement that Parliament must meet once every six months?” he said in a statement.

However, Lim said he was “sceptical” that the Health Ministry would advise so and called on Health Director-General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah to clear the air.

“I hope Noor Hisham, in his daily media conference today, would be able to throw some light on whether the ministry had advised the holding of a one-day Parliament.

“I am quite sceptical that the idea of a one-day meeting of Parliament had come from the Health Ministry, as by April 17, when the parliamentary secretary sent out the notice to all MPs about it, the Health director-general and all specialists would have suspected the country had passed the peak of the second wave of Covid-19 outbreak, subject to confirmation by developments in the coming days,” Lim, who is Iskandar Puteri MP, said.

Afif Abd Halim

“If the idea of a one-day parliament had not emanated  from the Health Ministry or the advice of specialists, the minister  of parliamentary affairs should eat humble pie and ask the cabinet on Wednesday to rectify the mistake of a one-day parliament.”

Lim further pointed to the actions of other countries, such as France, which are continuing to hold Parliament sessions and debate despite the health crisis.

Takiyuddin, who is de facto law and parliamentary affairs minister, had accused Harapan of not having the right priorities by protesting the one-day sitting.

He reportedly said the government would continue to be guided by the advice of the Health Ministry as well as relevant specialists in order to assure results and that its conduct is based on facts and legitimate considerations for the benefit and safety of all parties.

Yesterday, Lim had countered that it was Takiyuddin who failed to set the right priorities.

He stated the role of the Dewan Rakyat was more vital than ever in the current situation to pass emergency laws, allocate resources and scrutinise government actions.

The May 18 sitting will be the first parliament to convene this year after it was postponed from March 9 by the Perikatan Nasional government, which ousted the PH government in early March through defections and political manoeuvring.

PH contends that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is avoiding a longer sitting so that he will not face a test of his legitimacy through a vote of confidence.