BN leaders: Zahid’s statement didn’t reflect decision on Parliament sitting

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Top BN leaders refuted a statement from its chairperson Ahmad Zahid Hamidi yesterday that appealed to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to order for a parliament sitting to be held as soon as possible.

Yusof Mat Isa

 

Instead, they said that the coalition’s top leadership meeting on Wednesday did not make such a decision as Zahid had represented.

MIC president SA Vigneswaran said the BN meeting that took place on Wednesday decided that they would not make an assumption on the King’s decree about Parliament sitting.

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“I am shocked with the statement issued by the BN chairperson. The BN meeting had never supported any decision to make an appeal to the Agong to order a Parliament sitting to be conducted as soon as possible,” he told Malaysiakini.

He said this when asked to clarify about rumours that the BN meeting did not agree with a call to hold a parliamentary session.

Yesterday, Zahid in his statement as BN chairperson made an appeal to Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah to order a Parliament sitting to be held as soon as possible for lawmakers to debate on several crucial matters.

The Umno president also called on all MPs to urge Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and his cabinet to respect the King’s recent decree on parliamentary sitting.

However, Vigneswaran, who is also a former Dewan Negara speaker, described Zahid’s statement as inaccurate.

“The issue of holding a Parliament session was discussed.

“But there were explanations from several parties that the King did not decree for a Parliament sitting to be held as soon as possible but was only suggesting that Parliament can sit during the emergency at a date that he finds suitable on the advice of the prime minister.

“Thus, we took the decision not to make any assumption, and there was no need to issue a statement regarding a Parliament session,” he said.

MCA president Wee Ka Siong when contacted by Malaysiakini, confirmed Vigneswaran’s account of the meeting.

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“I confirm what Vigneswaran said was correct,” he said, without elaborating further.

Another BN leader, Arthur Joseph Kurup, also told Malaysiakini that Zahid’s press release was not agreed to by the meeting.

“Dewan Tertinggi BN did not agree to the press statement that was released,” said the PBRS deputy president, referring to the coalition’s top leadership council.

For the record, the BN meeting at PWTC on Wednesday was attended by Zahid, Vigneswaran, Wee, Arthur, Umno deputy president Mohamad Hassan, and two Umno vice-presidents Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Mahdzir Khalid.

Also present were MCA president Wee Ka Siong, his deputy Mah Hang Soon, MCA secretary-general Chong Sin Woong, MIC deputy president M Saravanan and its secretary-general M Asojan.

Meanwhile, when asked about cooperation with Bersatu, Vigneswaran said that what Umno had decided was not BN’s decision.

He was referring to Umno’s decision that it would not continue working with Bersatu in the next general election.

Vigneswaran also added that Zahid had given his assurance that BN would never work with Pakatan Harapan.

“Zahid gave his words in God’s name that he would not cooperate with DAP, PKR and Amanah at any time,” he said.

Yesterday, Pakatan Harapan chairman Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in a statement also appealed to the Yang di-Petuan Agong to call for a parliamentary session as soon as possible.

Anwar said PH lawmakers were extremely disappointed with the government’s refusal to heed the Agong’s decree.

Anwar argued that Section 14(1)(b) of the Emergency Ordinance (Necessary Powers) 2021 in conjunction with Article 40(2) of the Federal Constitution empowered the Agong to summon Parliament by decree.

“[We] humbly and sincerely beseech Tuanku Agong, if he so desires, to decree that Parliament convene for the following matters to be tabled,” Anwar said in the statement.

The statement goes on to list matters requiring Parliament’s attention, such as the current powers of the government under the Emergency, the country’s Covid-19 situation, the welfare of lower-income groups, and Malaysia’s economic recovery.

The statement was after Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Parliament) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan claimed it was still unsafe to convene Parliament, purportedly because many parliamentarians were in the high-risk group for Covid-19 infections.

He also said there was no need for Parliament, as the government could enact laws without the legislature using Emergency powers.

Anwar said Takiyuddin’s remarks were disappointing as it went against the King’s decree and views.

According to Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, the government’s decision to keep Parliament from reconvening is an insult to the Agong.

“The call by the minister that we have to suspend Parliament because there are more than 100 older people in Parliament…it’s an insult to voters’ intelligence (and) an insult to the King’s ruling,” said Syed Saddiq.

“The King was very clear in saying that Parliament can continue.

“There is no logical reason to prevent it from reconvening. It’s an insult to democracy, to the King’s wisdom and to the Malaysian people,” added the former youth and sports minister.

“Why is there suddenly a different standard?” asked Syed Saddiq.

“Why is it during the last Parliament sitting, which was during the CMCO (conditional movement control order), all the oldies could sit down together, debate and openly call me a kid?

“It’s fine, I engaged with them. Suddenly, three months later, their risk has increased by ten-fold? It’s clearly a political act of desperation,” he said, referring to claims that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin does not enjoy the majority support of MPs.

Commenting on news that Umno would not cooperate with PPBM in the next general election, and that the party would only work with the government until Parliament was dissolved, Syed Saddiq said the constant politicking in the country was driving away investors and causing the public to lose hope in elected representatives.

While he admitted the previous Pakatan Harapan government had its fair share of squabbles between former prime minister – and PPBM chairman – Dr Mahathir Mohamad and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, Syed Saddiq argued that the current political instability was more damaging.

“The government’s lack of stability is caused by the government leaders themselves. Umno is the government. They are the biggest party in the government. And they’re arguing with PPBM,” he said.

“Last time, you would never hear us (PH) talking about withdrawing support for the government. Now, you hear about this every day (and) every week, there is news about withdrawing support and dissolving Parliament.

“Last time they (opposition) said PH was not stable because Tun (Mahathir) and Anwar were arguing. Good thing it was only Tun and Anwar.

“Now it’s Tan Sri’s (Muhyiddin) PPBM branch leaders… They are (all) arguing with Umno. From the top leader all the way down. That’s even worse.”