Harapan today rubbished the reasons given by a Perikatan Nasional (PN) minister why Parliament cannot be convened during the current emergency rule.
Its secretariat council described the reasons given by de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan – many lawmakers are high-risk cases and no laws will be passed during the emergency period – as weak and shallow.
The council said in a statement that this simply showed that PN does not respect Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah’s consent for Parliament to meet during the emergency.
“All the reasons given are weak, superficial and do not respect his majesty’s advice on February 24 that Parliament can convene during an emergency,” the statement read.
It argued that confusion over Covid-19 standard operating procedures, the rakyat’s displeasure with uneven enforcement by the authorities, and insufficient or non-existent government help, among others, should be the driving factors behind why Parliament must meet immediately.
“As the country’s premier democratic institution, Parliament also serves as a place where the process of checks and balances on the government is conducted.
“Without Parliament including the Public Accounts Committee, this process is essentially neutralised,” said the council.
The statement was signed by PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Iskandar, Amanah secretary-general Mohd Hatta Ramli and DAP organising secretary Anthony Loke.
They said there is no reason for Parliament not to convene soon when the conditional MCO (CMCO) and recovery MCO (RMCO) have replaced the stricter movement control order (MCO).
“When more economic sectors are allowed to operate, and when the executive and the judiciary can function, there is no reason for Parliament not to convene soon.
“The cabinet needs to uphold the decree of his majesty and also advise his majesty to call for Parliament immediately,” they said.
Takiyuddin today said the cabinet will not advise the king to allow the house to sit during this period based on “science and data” as well as the law.
He explained that there are many high-risk groups in the Parliament, given that 77 MPs are aged between 61 to 69, while another 19 MPs were aged between 70 to 79.
He added that there are also four MPs who are aged 80 and above.
He said that when the Parliament convenes, each MP would have at least a group of three officers present in Parliament.
“222 times three officers. How many would that be?” he questioned.
Takiyuddin said that the Parliament was suspended for a period of two years from 1969 to 1972 during the state of emergency then.
“The present Emergency is until Aug 1 this year. That’s six months and 20 days,” he said.
Takiyuddin also said Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had assured to convene the Parliament once the Emergency Proclamation is lifted.
“That is our explanation and justification. No other hidden meanings,” he added.
Recently, Muhyiddin assured the public that Parliament will be dissolved and an election will be held once the Covid-19 pandemic is under control.
Referring to Takiyuddin’s claim that a number of MPs are in the Covid-19 high-risk age group, the PH secretarial council said that they were able to sit for 55 days in Parliament last year without any risk of infections.
This was despite the fact that not a single MP received the vaccines then, as adherence to SOP ensured the parliamentary sessions went on smoothly.
“During the 55 days Parliament convened in 2020, not a single MP was infected with Covid-19 in Parliament, and none of the Covid-19 clusters came as a result of the Parliamentary sessions.
“It also should be noted that at that time, not a single member of Parliament had received the vaccine.
“In fact, this proves the measures and SOP taken during the parliamentary session were effective. Parliament can sit now without any delay,” they added.
Meanwhile, former prime minister Najib Razak has mocked Putrajaya for citing “science and data” as a reason to delay a parliament sitting.
“Many are disappointed that science and data have shown a Dewan Rakyat sitting to be more dangerous than watching movies at cinemas, going to school, going to the night market, holding meetings at hotels to prepare for a general election, or holding a ceremony to receive the statutory declarations of defecting MP’s,” he said on Facebook today.
He noted that it had taken Perikatan Nasional more than a week to respond to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s decree that parliament should be allowed to convene even during a state of emergency.