Yeo Bee Yin has urged her successor Khairy Jamaluddin to offer technological solutions for Dewan Rakyat to meet virtually.
If Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and the Perikatan Nasional Government are confident of having majority support from MPs, there is no harm in allowing Parliament to have a meaningful session on May 18 by using technology like video conferencing, said former Minister Yeo Bee Yin.
In a statement, the DAP Member of Parliament for Bakri said the Standing Order of the Dewan Rakyat can be amended to allow such a provision, if needed.
“The first Parliament session of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) Government will be held next Monday, 18 May 2020, for only one day with no question-and-answer sessions, no motion, no debate, and no vote.
“Since the infamous power grab, Covid-19 has been used as a grand excuse by the PN Government for not holding any Parliament session or Parliamentary Committee meetings as what a proper democracy should be,” Yeo said.
“With the current and available technologies, there are a thousand and one ways to allow Parliament to continue to function as a check-and-balance mechanism for the executive branch of power during the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.
“In fact, no rocket science is needed to operate Parliament virtually,” she added.
Yeo, who was Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration’s energy, science, technology, environment and climate change minister, also took a jab at her successor Khairy Jamaluddin, saying he has been “extraordinarily silent” on advocating technology use for the Parliament sitting despite having promoted technology use in Covid-19 containment measures such as contact tracing and patient care.
“This sitting is critical for the people and any given government would have the good sense and responsibility to the people to convene and debate what is the next course of action with the interest of the people at heart.
“Are we not, first and foremost, the people’s representatives to voice their utmost concerns, and Parliament is where we convene?” asked Yeo.
“Will [the] PN government continue to use Covid-19 as an excuse to avoid proving their majority in the Parliament as well as facing check-and-balance from the Opposition?
“Or will we see immediate technological solution from Khairy Jamaluddin so that Covid-19 can no longer be an excuse to run a proper Parliament sitting?” she asked.
Portfolios in the ministry under the PH administration have now been split up and Khairy is the minister of science, technology and innovation.
Yeo said there was plenty of available technology that enabled “1,001 ways to allow Parliament to continue to function as a check-and-balance mechanism for the executive branch of power during the Covid 19 pandemic”.
“Parliament in many countries have started to operate virtually (fully or partially) not only in the developed countries like UK, Canada, Belgium, France, New Zealand and Luxembourg, but also in the developing countries like Poland, Maldives, Brazil, Angola and many others.”
Yeo said with a virtual platform, MPs need not worry about being infected.
Parliament’s first sitting of the year will be on May 18. It is also the first under the Perikatan Nasional government since it ousted PH in March.
The one-day sitting will not have question-and-answer sessions, no motions, no debates and no voting.
The royal address by the Yang Di Pertuan Agong is the sole agenda, and government matters on financing for economic stimulus packages, which had been on the first agenda initially, has since been removed.
PH has been criticising the government for reducing the sitting to the royal address and accused Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin of trying to stave off possibilities of a no-confidence motion against him.
The opposition has repeatedly suggested the use of technology for Dewan Rakyat to meet virtually, and for a longer sitting.