One-Day May 18 Parliament Sitting Valid

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The single-day Parliament sitting on May 18 was valid as it abided by the Federal Constitution and the Dewan Rakyat standing orders, stated an affidavit filed on behalf of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

The affidavit, signed by Dewan Rakyat secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin, was filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Registry on June 22.

The court document was filed in answer to a legal challenge against the validity of the single-day Dewan Rakyat session.

Lawyer R Kengadharan and social activist D Arumugam filed the originating summons on May 15 and named Muhyiddin as well as Dewan Rakyat speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff as first and second defendants, respectively.

The two plaintiffs, among others, sought a declaration that the single-day Parliament sitting, which was only slated to hear the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s speech, was not in accordance with the Federal Constitution and, thus, null and void.

According to Ariff, the validity of the one-day sitting of Parliament on May 18 cannot be questioned in any court.

FMT

“The planitiffs’ application for a declaration has no merit as Article 63 (1) of the Federal Constitution states that validity of any proceedings cannot be challenged in a court,” he said in his counter affidavit.

He said the May 18 sitting was also in compliance with the Standing Orders.

By convention, he said, the speaker should abide by the decision, the setting of dates as well as order of business for the sitting as determined by the leader of the house (the prime minister).

“In any case, should Parliament not sit in accordance with the Standing Orders, it will only amount to non-abiding with the order of business for the sitting and cannot be declared invalid for violating the constitution,” he said in his affidavit.

Ariff is a former dean of the law faculty of Universiti Malaya, a retired judge and legal consultant before he was elected speaker by the Pakatan Harapan government.

Dewan Rakyat secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin, who affirmed an affidavit on behalf of Prime Minister Muhyidin Yassin, also said the single day was valid as it abided by the Federal Constitution and Standing Orders.

The affidavit, signed by Nizam, was filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court registry on June 22.

Nizam said the May 18 sitting was legal because there had been two letters issued on the matter.

He said the two letters informed that the “Ketua Majlis” (leader of the house) had fixed May 18 as the only day for the parliamentary sitting, and that it was only to hear the King’s speech in light of the danger posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Dewan Rakyat was originally scheduled to sit for 15 days between May 18 and June 23.

“I have been advised by the senior federal counsel and believe that the plaintiffs’ application is misconceived both legally and under the Standing Orders,” Nizam said.

As such, he said, the plaintiffs’ application has no merit and should be dismissed with costs.

In their affidavit in support, Kengadharan and Arumugam said the one-day sitting would not fulfil the requirements of Article 55 of the constitution as no other important matters would be discussed, as stated under Order 14(1).

They also said the gathering would not be in line with Article 55, taking into consideration the words “sitting”, “meeting” and “session” under Order 98.

They said Article 55 also states that Parliament must be allowed to carry out its business as stated under Order 14(1), and that it is also the duty of the speaker to see that the May 18 sitting is in accordance with Article 55 and Orders 11, 12 and 15.

Lawyer T Gunaseelan, representing Kengadharan and Arumugam, said his clients would not file affidavits in reply to Muhyiddin and Ariff as both only raised legal points.

“The respondents have not disputed the facts of the case. We will make our submission before the High Court,” he said.

Oral submissions before a High Court judge have been fixed on July 30.