The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) refers to the news reports dated April 17 stating that Parliament would convene on May 18, 2020, but only for one day.
C4 Center is appalled at the blatant disregard displayed by the illegitimate government for the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty. This is particularly so given the difficult times the country is in and the immeasurable uncertainty Malaysians are facing as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
It bears reminding that an economic stimulus package worth RM250 billion was announced by the government on March 27, 2020 without getting Parliamentary approval. While we acknowledge that this stimulus package is urgently needed to ease the burden shouldered by many Malaysians affected by this pandemic, a critical issue related to the process and mandate around the formulation and execution of the stimulus package remains unaddressed.
It is noteworthy that this move is not only unprecedented, but also raises serious concerns on accountability and transparency. Many parties have urged Prime Minister Muhyiddin to call for an emergency sitting to debate the enormity of public funds announced to curb the damage of the pandemic, all of which had fallen on deaf ears. This is understandably so as the new coalition may be avoiding a Parliamentary session that could rattle their very legitimacy.
The spirit of democracy embedded in Parliament which is key to legislative checks and balance, and upholding the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty is again under direct assault when the unelected government announced that it would only sit for one day on May 18, and with no room for debate.
Instead of righting the wrong that had been done through a ruthless power grab that stole the people’s vote, it proceeded further to make a mockery of the spirit of democracy and the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty.
The executives are dishing out billions of ringgit and setting policies without going through parliamentary process as we speak. Many questions arise, such as where does the source of the funds for the economic stimulus package come from? What are the implementation methods? How do we prevent leakages? How many contracts have been given out and to whom these contracts are awarded to? Is the tender process being followed?
These are some of the serious issues that need to be presented and critically debated in Parliament. Parliamentary sitting that will only take place in one day clearly would not be sufficient to address them.
In light of the foregoing, C4 Center calls upon the government to convene a Parliamentary sitting which extends to more than just one day to ensure substantial discussion around the stimulus package and other pressing issues related to the pandemic takes place. The government can take a leaf from our neighbour Singapore which presented all its three separate budgets dealing with the Covid pandemic, themed “Unity, Resilience and Solidarity” in Parliament for approval even in emergency times.
If the government was serious in building the trust of the people, they should start by respecting the central pillars of a democratic government and respect the need for a clear legislative mandate and place integrity, accountability and crucial checks as its frontline principles.
The views expressed here are strictly those of the organisation.