Malaysia may no longer be a DEMOCRACY but a dictatorship of the Prime Minister and HIS Cabinet following the proclamation of EMERGENCY - that then suspended Parliament, now it seems that even virtual meetings of Parliamentary committees are not allowed.
...questioned the reasoning for the suspension of Parliament during the state of emergency, raising concerns that the legislature's functions have been "emasculated" while the executive has "free rein" over the country's affairs as a result...However, the suspension of Parliament has meant that there are no ways of enforcing ministerial responsibility against the Cabinet and individual ministers.
...She added that the Attorney-General's Chambers has "restrictively" advised the government that all activities of committees established in Parliament including Special Select Committees (SCs) can no longer continue even if conducted virtually... Statement by Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Azalina Othman Said, as reported in Media
Note, Malaysia have been under EMERGENCY before, but then Parliament continued to function and operate as usual, even during the many years, we were under Emergency.
The ODDITY here is that many workplaces, even those where there are many workers working in close proximity continues to operate. Even the courts can still function, sometimes virtually, where online hearings can be held.
HENCE, why is the Parliament (and, worse the State Legislative Assemblies), i.e. the LEGISLATIVE, preventing from being able to operate? Democracy has 3 branches of government - the EXECUTIVE(PM & Cabinet), the LEGISLATURE(Parliament) and the JUDICIARY(the judges and courts). Now, with the LEGILATURE 'suspended' - is Malaysia still practicing DEMOCRACY? Remember the 3 branches are necessary check and balance for each other in a DEMOCRACY.
While the present Perikatan Nasional(PN) State governments may not protest the Federal PN actions, it is interesting that the States governed by Opposition have also been rather silent - not protesting the violation of State sovereignty?
As the number of Covid-19 active cases reduces, some States have been placed no longer under strict movement control orders - but what about operations of State Legislative Assemblies - should they not be allowed to start functioning again as number of Covid-19 cases drops.
In this modern day and age, when the possibility of having online meetings/conferences are there - Parliament and Legislative Assemblies can operate virtually - without the need for physical presence of legislators.
The Pahang Bar is conducting their Annual General Meeting virtually...and there have been so many virtual conferences and meetings...so, why can't Parliament function.
Taking a few days to put together the needed equipment for the conducting of virtual meetings of Parliament - but so many days after passed since Parliament suspension following declaration of Emergency.
If the reason was merely to prevent by-elections or elections, then the Emergency could have confined itself to the suspension or the delaying of elections only. [But then, so many countries can and did hold elections during this pandemic including the US Presidential elections....mmmm]
HENCE, immediate repeal of the provision in the Emergency Ordinance suspending the operation of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies - STRICT SOPs can be put in place, if needed...
Malaysian MPs are also disappointing for they can still voice their protest through the media or online - how many did so? Are they HAPPY for the fully paid holidays?
Many workers are forced to take NO PAY LEAVE when their workplaces are not operating, so WHY ARE THE MALAYSIAN PEOPLE still paying our MPs and State Legislative Assembly Persons full pay? Remember, their MAIN JOB is attending and debating in Parliament..
HENCE, Malaysia needs MONEY to help the needy and poor, many of which has lost income and even jobs - and the monies saved can be used to do this.
NO PAY leave for all MPs and State Assembly Persons for so long as Parliament is suspended and there is no meetings.
Likewise, maybe there should be PAY CUTS for all public servants having monthly incomes above RM10,000-00. Same for all Directors and CEOs, especially political appointees of GLCs/Statutory Bodies/Government Agencies - they should cut pay to not more than RM10,000 per month. Malaysia needs MONIES now to provide monthly financial assistance to everyone, who is not earning RM1,000 (some earning nothing) by reason of this Covid-19 pandemic. So, let us CUT pays of those earning above RM10,000 per month in government and GLCs - this simply can be done by an Emergency Ordinance.
IS MALAYSIA STILL A WORKING DEMOCRACY especially when a needed branch of government, i.e. the Legislature, can no longer function and be the needed check and balance to the Executive and the Judiciary?
Politics, holding on to political power or other motives should not be used to undermine DEMOCRACY in Malaysia.
Note, a fun fact:- Attorney-General Tan Sri Idrus Harun and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun are allegedly brothers?
Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Azalina questions suspension of Parliament
KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 17): Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Azalina Othman Said has questioned the reasoning for the suspension of Parliament during the state of emergency, raising concerns that the legislature's functions have been "emasculated" while the executive has "free rein" over the country's affairs as a result.
In a letter addressed to Attorney-General Tan Sri Idrus Harun, the Pengerang lawmaker said she was "bewildered" at how accommodations to facilitate sittings employed by other countries, such as lowering the quorum of MPs, flexible sitting times and broadcasting of chamber proceedings are not being used.
"As [you] may be aware, almost all other countries including those with significantly higher Covid-19 have not suspended their Parliament. Instead, countries such as our colonial master, the UK, have made significant technical and procedural work so that Parliament proceedings can take place safely and efficiently," she said.
She added that the Attorney-General's Chambers has "restrictively" advised the government that all activities of committees established in Parliament including Special Select Committees (SCs) can no longer continue even if conducted virtually.
According to Azalina, this will effectively prevent MPs who are members of the SCs from investigating and scrutinising issues affecting Malaysians, as well as engaging with bureaucrats and technical experts on such matters.
"[You] would know that SCs play a significant role in the running of our nation as they publish their findings in a report and the government is expected to respond to any recommendation that is made," she added.
She also highlighted that the Parliament has a constitutional role to hold the executive arm of the government accountable, and should be able to discharge its duties free from the dominion of the latter.
"I must stress that ministerial responsibility is central to the Parliamentary system because it ensures the accountability of the government to the legislature and thus, ultimately to the electorate as a whole," she said.
However, the suspension of Parliament has meant that there are no ways of enforcing ministerial responsibility against the Cabinet and individual ministers.
"How can there be a full Cabinet functioning if there is no means of enforcing ministerial responsibility? Why is there no Special Emergency Cabinet? Are we excusing ministerial responsibility because of a health crisis?" she asked.
Azalina also raised concerns that any emergency proclaimed, or any ordinance promulgated under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution “shall not be challenged or called in question in any court on any ground”.
Thus, Azalina proposed the suspension of the current Cabinet and for it to be replaced with a Special Emergency Cabinet which consists of relevant ministries only until the state of emergency ends, which is slated for Aug 1 this year.
“Concurrently, a bipartisan Special Parliamentary Committee comprising government and opposition MPs can be chaired by the Yang Di-Pertua Dewan Rakyat to, among others, enforce ministerial responsibility and provide the necessary checks and balance,” she said.
The letter was copied to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, de facto law minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan, and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun among others.
Azhar, who is the superior of Azalina, is the brother of Idrus.
PETALING JAYA: Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Azalina Othman Said has stirred the hornet’s nest with her letter to the attorney-general, asking that Parliament be allowed to sit, or that a new committee be formed to take over from the Cabinet.
Even those in government are divided about her stand while there are those who feel that her letter adds another dimension to the Umno-PPBM fight that has been on the boil for some time now.
One minister, who declined to be named, said what Azalina said was true. There was no justifiable reason to suspend Parliament when Covid-19 restrictions are being lifted.
“There will be a breaking point, where the government can no longer justify suspending Parliament. So much has taken place, it is embarrassing.”
The minister said there was a need for everyone to be objective in the management of the pandemic using science and data.
Azalina, in her letter to Attorney-General Idrus Harun, stated that she was “bewildered” that Malaysia is unable or refuses to find ways to facilitate parliamentary sittings.
She also mooted the suspension of the current Cabinet and for it to be replaced with an emergency Cabinet with limited powers until the state of emergency is lifted on Aug 1.
Johor Umno deputy chief Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the Perikatan Nasional government was running the country based on a political agenda.
“We have heard from the other side that there are moves by the home ministry to deregister Umno. So I guess this move is to tell them not to mess around with the very party that is keeping them in power,” said the former deputy home minister.
He said Azalina’s calls made sense and had merit as there was no government now following the emergency, which meant his party is not supporting the prime minister.
“There is an absolute absence of checks and balances. Legal experts have also disputed the legality of the bipartisan committee formed last week. This is a waste of time as the decisions are not binding.
“We all know it is one man running the country at his whim and fancy — that is Muhyiddin Yassin. The rest are on autopilot mode.
“Is this what Malaysians want to continue with until he decides when we can return to democracy?”
He said the current leadership was leading the country nowhere, adding that this was a dangerous situation.
He said that after six weeks of emergency, nothing has changed and the Covid-19 numbers do not seem to be coming down at all. So, there was no need for an emergency and Parliament must sit so Malaysia can return to have an organised and proper administration in Putrajaya.
Nur Jazlan said there was no such thing as a “Covid-19 emergency” as being mentioned by government leaders, adding that the declaration by the King was for a proper emergency.
“However, life is nearly back to normal. So, lift the emergency and let Parliament convene.”
Umno’s Shahidan Kassim said he will only decide on the matter after the newly appointed Emergency Management Technical Committee sits for a meeting to discuss matters related to the ongoing emergency.
“Let’s see what they decide and act on their direction,” he told FMT. The Arau MP said it was crucial to have a stable government to run the country, even if it was by a one-vote majority.
He said if the government remains weak, they may not be able to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic effectively.
PPBM’s Supreme Council member Rosol Wahid, however, defended the suspension of Parliament, stating the emergency was clearly to control Covid-19.
“It is only right to control the Covid-19 crisis the best way we can. Parliament should be suspended so that Covid-19 can be effectively curbed,” he told FMT.
Rosol said that even though all MPs will be vaccinated against Covid-19, time was needed to look at the effectiveness of the vaccine. “That will also take a bit of time as the first phase of vaccination will only be completed in May,” he added.
Umno Supreme Council member Mohd Razlan Rafii said Malaysia was being placed in a bad light after the suspension of Parliament in January.
“Even the 90 MPs and former elected representatives from Asean countries are urging for Parliament to reconvene as soon as possible. It is about democracy and about the confidence people will have in Malaysia,” he told FMT.
As such, he said he supported Azalina’s call to speak out against the suspension of Parliament.- FMT, 17/2/2021