Kit Siang: Five-day parliamentary sitting not constitutional

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Dewan Negara sitting violates constitution as it only begins on Aug 3 when the emergency order ends on Aug 1.

The government’s schedule for the next parliamentary sitting is improper and unconstitutional for four reasons, and the Cabinet must rectify it in its meeting tomorrow, says Lim Kit Siang.

First, the DAP veteran pointed out that the schedule did not provide for a royal address by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who will lay out the government’s policies for the rest of the year.

“Firstly, there is no provision for the opening of Parliament with a royal address by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, as the last meeting of Parliament was in December last year,” said the DAP adviser.

Lim, who has been calling for a Parliament meeting since February, said that when Parliament was restored on February 20, 1971, after the May 1969 riots, it began with the royal address.

“The debate on the royal address was delayed to allow the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 1971 to be debated and adopted.

FMT

“The first item of parliamentary business of a restored Parliament should be the opening of Parliament with a royal address by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong laying out the government’s policies for the rest of the year,” said Lim who was the Kota Melaka MP when Parliament convened after the emergency then.

Second, he said, the five-day Dewan Rakyat and three-day Dewan Negara sittings were insufficient for Parliament to debate on the royal address.

“Last year, the debate on the royal address took 15 days in the Dewan Rakyat and eight days in the Dewan Negara.

“How can a five-day meeting in the Dewan Rakyat and a three-day meeting in the Dewan Negara be adequate for the restoration of Parliament?” the Bandar Puteri MP asked.

Third, Lim said, the government’s schedule violated Article 150(3) of the Constitution, which required the emergency proclamation and ordinances to be laid before both houses of Parliament.

Noting that the Dewan Negara was proposed to meet on Aug 3, he said this was in violation of the Constitution as the emergency would end by Aug 1.

Last, he said, there were many serious and urgent matters requiring the MPs’ debate and attention, including parliamentary reforms to effectively win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lim said that Parliament needed to add parliamentary reforms so that the House can play an important role to mobilise the nation in an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” strategy and approach to win the war against Covid-19 pandemic.

“The cabinet meeting tomorrow should rectify the parliamentary schedule for both Houses of Parliament to comply with both the constitution and the respective Standing Orders of both Houses of Parliament,” said the 80-year-old.

The Prime Minister’s Office announced yesterday that Dewan Rakyat will convene for a special meeting for five days, while the Dewan Negara will sit for three days this month.

In the statement, PMO said the government has agreed to advise Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah to summon the Dewan Rakyat for a special meeting from July 26 to 29 and on August 2.