Azalina rejects request to hold special parliamentary session on Emergency

PETALING JAYA: A request to hold a special parliamentary session on the Emergency proclamation has been rejected by Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

She said the recently gazetted Emergency Ordinance states that Parliament can only convene when it is decided by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

"As such, the chances of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to call for a Parliament meeting in the near time, or to cancel the Emergency proclamation and Ordinance, is very slim.

"Therefore, with all due respect, I reject and disagree with the request for my agreement on the said issue, as stated in YB Pontian's letter dated Jan 18,2021," said Azalina in her letter to Pontian Umno lawmaker Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan.

A copy of the letter was also sent to Umno and Barisan Nasional president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as well as other lawmakers from the parties.

Ahmad Maslan in a letter had urged the cooperation of all Umno and Barisan MPs to present their agreement to have a special Parliament session immediately.

In explaining further, Azalina said she had looked into the matter and found that Article 150(8) of the Federal Constitution notes that the Emergency proclamation or Ordinance by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong cannot be challenged in the court of law as it is final and conclusive.

The Pengerang Umno MP also noted that although the Emergency proclamation declared by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong cannot be challenged, she believes that there are other alternative suggestions or recommendations that can be put forward to the King.

Among them is forming a special bipartisan council to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on issues related to rights and freedom of the rakyat under the Federal Constitution.

The council can comprise government and opposition MPs and be empowered to summon the rakyat to give their views, input and suggestions, said Azalina.

Azalina also said that permission has been granted for all other parliamentary activities to go on as usual despite the suspension of Parliament meetings.

"Any worries or complaints experienced by the rakyat in the respective parliamentary constituencies throughout the movement control order (MCO 2.0) and Emergency proclamation can be brought to the attention of Umno ministers officially, or unofficially, in the Cabinet meetings.

"This is because Umno MPs still receive the allocations from the government and have the freedom to move about and travel across states to visit their constituencies," she added.

Azalina said the agreement to also form a Perikatan Nasional presidential council late last year can also be used as a mechanism for Umno to contribute their input, suggestions or even to challenge or disagree to any of the government policies throughout MCO 2.0 or the Emergency period.

"I urge Umno representatives to be nominated as soon as possible into the Special Independent Committee on Emergency Proclamation that will be formed as decreed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong," she added.

Azalina also said that only two Commonwealth nations - India and Pakistan - have the Emergency proclamation in their Constitutions, similar to Malaysia.

She said to her understanding, both the countries have yet to invoke the proclamation to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Azalina said some other countries have also declared an Emergency proclamation to fight Covid-19 but their Parliament meeting goes on as usual.

"However, the proclamation of Emergency does not have any legal impact as what is stated under Article 150 of our Federal Constitution.

"The Emergency proclamation in those countries were made through specially written laws and does not bring any effect to the freedom guaranteed under those laws, and it does not allow the countries to amend ordinances such as Article 150(2B) under the Malaysian Federal Constitution," she said.

Azalina added that those countries had made earlier preparations so their Parliament meetings can be held in a safe manner.

Among the safety measures taken are amending their Standing Orders to allow virtual or online Parliament meetings to be held.

"However, this could not be done in our country during the last Parliament meeting," she added.

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