PETALING JAYA: The government has dismissed calls for an emergency sitting of Parliament to review the RM250bil economic stimulus package, saying there is an immediate danger of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, who is in charge of Parliament, said with the country in a state of crisis, the government’s priority was ensuring the people’s welfare.
“If it’s about transparency, we can always table the stimulus package at a later date, ” he said when asked to comment on the call by a pro-civil rights group for the economic stimulus package to be debated in the Dewan Rakyat.
Among them were former MP Tawfik Ismail, Prof Dr Edmund Terence Gomez of Universiti Malaya and former Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Mary Suma Cardosa.
On March 28, Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang made a similar call, saying there should be no other matter raised during the sitting other than that of the stimulus package.
Takiyuddin said it would be irresponsible of the government to hold an emergency sitting as it would expose MPs to health risks.
“It is not the right time to play politics when the whole world, and not just us, is facing such a grave situation, ” he said, adding that the government had followed the law and procedures in drawing up the stimulus package.
Presently, the seats of all 222 MPs in the Dewan Rakyat are less than a metre apart with no space in the hall to keep further apart.
Former minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, who is the Pengerang MP, said it was conventional that when the government announced any stimulus package, a supplementary budget would be tabled in Parliament.
She said the Federal Constitution allowed for this under Article 100 and 101 for a Supplementary Supply Bill.
“A similar situation happened in 2008 and 2009 when two stimulus packages were announced. After the Budget 2009 which was tabled in 2008, the then prime minister announced the first stimulus package in
November 2008 due to economic crisis and then brought the same to Parliament on March 2009 for the second economic stimulus to be passed and tabled as a supplementary supply bill.”
The Umno MP slammed Pakatan Harapan lawmakers for making such calls and accused them of practising “double standards”, adding that the Pakatan government did not even bring the first economic stimulus package on Covid-19 to Parliament.
“If this was done due to extreme or emergency circumstances, then why are Pakatan MPs playing politics now? We are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis which requires immediate government intervention and mitigation, ” said Azalina.
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