King gave okay, so call Parliament, says Umno

Umno says it wants Parliament to sit so that there will be oversight on government decisions. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, February 24, 2021.

UMNO welcomed Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al Mustafa Billah Shah’s decree that Parliament can convene during a state of emergency, said the party’s information chief, Shahril Hamdan.

He said the Agong’s decision shows that the king has placed parliamentary democracy as a priority.

“This also proves that His Majesty prioritises the principles of the constitution and every branch of the democratic system. The country must abide by that principle, including the government,” he said on Facebook today.

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

“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.

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

Shahril said the stance for Parliament to reconvene as soon as possible was in line with the desire to preserve legislative oversight on government decisions.

“It is this stance that has prompted the Umno leadership to call for a solution that allows a parliamentary session.”

Sharil was referring to Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Azalina Othman Said, from Umno, who had supported the move for Parliament to reconvene.

On February 17, Azalina questioned why the government appeared to refuse any consideration of improvising or adapting Parliamentary sittings, as other countries have done, even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am bewildered as to how and why we are unable to and/or refuse to employ means in the ordinance to facilitate Parliament sittings like other nations have, such as reducing the quorum of MPs present, fixing flexible sitting hours and broadcasting chamber proceedings.

“Instead of improvising so that parliamentary proceedings can take place, the government has opted to suspend Parliamentary sittings altogether.”

The Pengerang MP said that almost all other countries including those with a significantly higher number of Covid-19 infections have not suspended their parliaments.

“Instead, countries such as the United Kingdom have made significant technical and procedural work so that Parliament proceedings can take place safely and efficiently,” she said.

Meanwhile, Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said the Agong had powers under the constitution to call for Parliament to convene without the advice of the prime minister, even under the emergency.

“The Agong can decide on the date for the Parliament to convene,” he said in a short statement. – February 24, 2021.

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