It is most regrettable that the Parliament Speaker, Azhar Azizan Harun had used the most unSpeaker-like language in his reply to the Pakatan Harapan Presidential Council – a language which had never been used by any Speaker in the last 64 years of the nation’s history.
The unSpeaker-like language made me check back the PH Presidential Council statement and although I agree that very strong language had been used, it does not excuse Azhar using the unSpeaker-like language.
I have said that the five-day special Parliamentary meeting beginning next Monday is a most extraordinary one as no Parliament in the world had convened a five-day special Parliament solely confined to Ministerial statements – a Ministerial statement each day.
I do not believe that the founding fathers of the nation who wrote the Malaysian Constitution and the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders, including SO 11(3) for special Parliamentary meeting, had envisaged a five-day special Parliamentary meeting with a Minister making a Ministerial statement each day on a core issue of the Covid-19 pandemic.
I also do not believe that the founding fathers of the nation who wrote the Malaysian Constitution and the original Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders ever conceived that there would be a government which dare not test its majority in Parliament in any form.
As a result, we are in “no man’s land” in parliamentary practice whether in time going back the last few hundred years or in space, covering Commonwealth and world Parliaments.
In the circumstances, we have to depend on two things to traverse this uncharted territory in parliamentary practice: firstly the assurance of the Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Parliament) Takiyuddin Hassan that there would be debate when Parliament reconvenes and the information that the Prime Minister had written to the Speaker requesting for MPs to be allowed to debate and ask questions; and secondly, Standing Order 99 which provides: “The decision of Tuan Yang di-Pertua upon any point of interpretation of any of these Standing Orders, or upon any matter of practice, shall, subject to a substantive motion moved for that purpose, be final, and Tuan Yang di-Pertua may from time to time issue rulings thereon.”
This means that, subject to a substantive motion of the Dewan Rakyat, the Speaker should interpret SO 11(3) and 14(1) in conformity with Parliament’s role as intended by the Constitution and the assurance of the Prime Minister that there would be debate on the Ministerial statements.
I agree with the DAP MP for Bruas and former Perak State Assembly Speaker, Ngeh Koo Ham, that the Prime Minister decides on when Parliament is to meet, but he has no say in how Parliamentary proceedings are conducted.
The latter is decided by the Parliament Speaker based on his interpretation of the Standing Orders and general parliamentary procedures and practices subject to a substantive motion of the House on the matter.
This is why I have suggested a parliamentary format for the five-day Parliamentary special meeting, with the Speaker honouring the word of the Prime Minister and the Minister in Prime Minister’s Office that there would be debate in the Ministerial statements and a creative interpretation of the Standing Orders based on
SO 99 – debate taking place after the Ministerial statement had been made by the relevant Minister, allowing MPs to seek clarification from the Minister as well to state their views on the Ministerial statement, with the Minister concerned winding up the debate at the end of each sitting, responding to the clarifications sought and the views expressed by Members of Parliament.
As there is no Question Time, each sitting will have six hours of debate time. This is why I suggested that the Speaker should inform the Parliamentary Opposition Leader how many Opposition MPs would be allowed to speak on each of the five days of the special meeting of Parliament so that preparations could be made beforehand.
If this parliamentary format is adopted, it would not do too great a violence to the system of governance based on the concept of separation of powers as provided by the Malaysia Constitution and the promise by the Prime Minister that there would be debate on the Ministerial statements.
It would also be in conformity with the decrees of the Yang di Pertuan Agong and the Conference of Rulers special meeting of June 16, 2021, that Parliament should be reconvened as soon as possible to allow the Emergency Proclamation and Ordinances and the National Recovery Plan to be debated by Members of Parliament.
Media Statement by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, 20th July , 2021