The reconvening of Parliament is long overdue and there is no reason to delay it until September, several politicians said, after Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced today that Parliament will sit either in September or October.
They questioned why the suspension of Parliament and state assemblies would only be lifted in a few months, and most were sceptical, saying it was just another move to buy time for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration.
Subang Jaya MP Wong Chen said Muhyiddin must come out with a rational explanation for this move.
“How has the suspension of Parliament helped contain the pandemic? Will a further extension beyond August help?”
Parliament and state assemblies were suspended when a state of emergency was proclaimed in January. Muhyiddin initially said the emergency would automatically cease in August.
“In the absence of a rational explanation, this is no more than a ‘buying time’ move which will further erode transparency and accountability of an incompetent leadership,” he told FMT.
Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah echoed this, saying there did not seem to be any sincerity in Muhyiddin’s guarantee to reopen Parliament.
“I view this as just lip service by the PM. Parliament should open immediately, not later, not September. Now.”
She said the reopening of Parliament and state assemblies must coincide with the end of the emergency.
“The whole purpose of the emergency was to curb Covid-19, and it has failed miserably,” she said.
This meant that there should be a full debate on updates to the budget, the national vaccination roll-out, Covid-19 testing and the government’s plan for economic recovery. “A cross-party committee must also be set up to monitor social and economic recovery.”
Umno youth leader Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki also agreed, saying: “Why must we wait until September or October? People need answers to many issues pertaining to their lives and livelihood.”
He added that it was an “embarrassment to the world” that Malaysia seemed to be the only country to suspend Parliament during the pandemic.
Asyraf said the government needs to be accountable for many aspects, including its spending of taxpayer money for Covid-19, the national immunisation programme, and its overall plan to curb the pandemic.
Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto urged that all deferred bills be tabled once Parliament sits again. Laws such as the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) Act, the Sexual Harassment Act, and other amendments to the Penal Code including those meant to address the recent spike in police custodial deaths should be debated.
Bersih 2.0 also called for a quick reopening of Parliament, saying it should not have been suspended in the first place. “We only have to look at the examples of the UK, Australia, the US, Singapore, and almost all democracies around the world that adapted to the challenges and allowed their Parliaments to function either virtually or in a hybrid manner,” it said in a statement. – FMT