Agong gives parliament nod to convene

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al Mustafa Billah Shah is flanked by Dewan Negara Speaker Rais Yatim (left)and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun, at the Istana Negara, today. – Facebook pic, February 24, 2021.

PARLIAMENT may convene during a state of emergency, said Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al Mustafa Billah Shah.

In a statement today, comptroller of the Royal Household Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said the king made the decision after meeting with Dewan Negara speaker Rais Yatim and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun today. 

“His Majesty has stated his view that parliament can convene during the emergency on a date that His Majesty deems suitable, on the advice of the prime minister,” said Fadil in a statement.

He said some quarters are erroneous in thinking that the house may not sit during a state of emergency. 

The statement comes 45 days after the Agong acquiesced to the government’s request to declare a state of emergency until August 1 as a coronavirus containment measure
The opposition has accused Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin of resorting to emergency rule to stay in power after his Perikatan Nasional government lost the majority in parliament.

Fadil stated it is the king’s view that emergency rule was to be a proactive measure to mitigate the coronavirus crisis.

Dewan Rakyat speaker Azhar had said that the select committees could continue their work even though parliament was suspended.

But last week it was revealed that Attorney-General Idrus Harun had advised the government to also muzzle the select committees.

This prompted Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azalina Othman Said to propose an emergency cabinet with limited powers to function during the emergency and a bipartisan parliamentary committee to provide checks and balances.

She also criticised the government’s preference for emergency rule which prevents the MPs from carrying out their legislative duties.

She also questioned the government’s refusal to allow parliament to sit with improvisations for health and safety considerations, as has been done in other countries amid an infectious disease outbreak.

Public Accounts Committee chairman Wong Kah Woh has also revealed that the Attorney-General’s Chambers had advised him to stop PAC meetings because the country is in a state of emergency.

The Dewan Rakyat last met on December 17 and the Dewan Negara,  on December 29.

Constitutionally, parliament has six months – or until June 29 – to reconvene before it is automatically dissolved. – February 24, 2021.

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