Anwar: One-Day Parliament Sitting Makes No Sense

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Muhyiddin had expressed his desire to have the one-day session specifically for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to declare the session open, with the actual debates to take place sometime in July.

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has argued that the government’s decision to limit the upcoming Parliamentary sitting to only one day is pointless. Describing Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s announcement for the one-day inaugural session on May 18 as unsurprising, Anwar said such a move would ultimately prove redundant as nothing much can be achieved during the brief period.

“To me, it just does not make sense; if you are able to convene for a meeting, have a debate, if you cannot have it for five days, you can have it for two days,” he said during Astro Awani’s talk show Consider This last night.

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“Parliament must be effective, there must be meaningful participatory democracy, and you must allow for MPs to express their views and their concerns; to support measures and also to ensure that inadequate measures be addressed by the government.”

In the interview, Anwar revealed that Muhyiddin had expressed his desire to have the one-day session specifically for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to declare the session open, with the actual debates to take place sometime in July.

Anwar had called on Muhyiddin last week, insisting that it was not an endorsement of the latter as the prime minister or his Perikatan Nasional administration, but to discuss the upcoming Parliamentary sitting.

When pressed as to why he believed the government decided on the one-day sitting, Anwar played it down to the ruling coalition’s fear of not being able to provide sufficient numbers to support their claims of enjoying majority support in the Dewan Rakyat.

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He said the worry of the illegitimacy of the Perikatan Nasional government, a matter only MPs can address, was obviously getting in the way of their decision-making.

“There is this fear of having adequate support of the majority, there is no other reason, because if Parliament is able to convene, why can’t they allow for debate for even two days,” he said.

“In fact, I raised this issue with the prime minister that we need at least two days, where we can then have an understanding among party leaders to have a representative or for example, five speakers or less for the smaller parties.

“Well, he listened but apparently he did not want to concede; I believe it is primarily due to the issue of legitimacy, that the government must be tested in terms of their support in Parliament, and since they cannot muster enough support, they will not allow Parliament to convene,” he added.

This comes as Dewan Rakyat secretary Riduan Rahmat had on Friday issued a circular to all MPs informing them of the one-day sitting, where only government Bills and matters would be discussed, with no oral and written questions or motions allowed in line with the movement control order (MCO).

Parliament was supposed to have convened for 15 days from May 18 after the initial sitting was postponed from March 9 following a week-long political impasse that saw Perikatan Nasional emerge as the new government.

Anwar today also warned that the decision to limit the Parliamentary sitting to just one day might set a dangerous precedent for the future, pointing out the multitude of pressing topics that ought to be debated if the upcoming session runs for its usual length.

He said the current leaders and ministers must not be let off so easily, as they are compelled and are accountable to justify the government’s decisions taken during this time of crisis.

“The issue is, Parliament has to convene because they, only the Parliamentarians, can decide what is best in terms of MCO, and the government leaders are compelled to explain to the people the necessity to extend (the MCO).

“And, by extending (the MCO), how do you deal and resolve economic problems, issues of unemployment, issues of the common person,” he added. – MMO