Upko: Sabah assembly risks automatic dissolution if it fails to sit before Aug 1

KOTA KINABALU: Opposition Upko wants the Sabah government to re-convene the state assembly as soon as possible as there is the risk the current assembly will be dissolved automatically if it does not meet by Aug 1.

Upko president Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau said the state government under Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor (pic) must convene the assembly before midnight of Aug 1 when the current national Emergency comes to an end.

"Sabah last adjourned on Dec 23, 2020, and it passed the six-month interval between one legislative session and another on June 23, 2021.

"The Emergency currently halts the legislative clock (for mandatory sittings) and avoids automatic dissolution. The clock will resume after Aug 2, 2021," he said in a statement on Tuesday (July 13).

By convening the state legislative assembly after Aug 1, he said the state government risks exposing the state to another snap election in a year after the last one in Sept 26, 2020.

"If anyone successfully seeks a court declaration that the Sabah Legislative Assembly has stood automatically dissolved on Aug 2, Sabahans would be exposed to a super-spreader event when the delta variant (of SARS-Cov-2) runs wild globally," he said.

Furthermore, he said that the risk of Covid-19 spiking again would see Sabah under another Emergency that will hold back return to normalcy.

Madius said the reconvening of the assembly, even for a day, could avoid any legal questions on the legality of the current assembly.

He said the assembly could also put in place Standing Orders during the sitting that will enable the assembly or its committees to meet online or in a hybrid mode.

The assembly session could also pass any other motion or ordinance to empower the state government and people of Sabah on public health, intellectual property rights (such as trademarks) or other matters, said Madius.

"The state assembly can also pass a motion calling for the setting up of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) on Federalism and Decentralisation in Parliament, to officially register the voice of the Sabah people," he said, adding that the assembly should sit before Parliament opens on July 25.

Madius, who is Tuaran MP, also called on all Sabah parties and their elected representatives to work together with their peers in Sarawak and the relevant peninsula states to jointly demand steps in decentralisation through the establishment of PSSC on federalism and decentralisation.

He said that they should collaborate with the Minister in Prime Minister’s Department for Sabah and Sarawak Affairs, Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili, on necessary constitutional and legal amendments to enable greater autonomy for governments in the three regions to better respond to the pandemic and economic hardship as well as post-pandemic development.

By the next full parliamentary meeting, Madius said that an amendment to the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution should be made to move "Medicine and Health" from the Federal List (Item 14) to the Concurrent List alongside "Public Health, Sanitation and the Prevention of Diseases" (Item 7) so that the state governments have bigger say in the interrelated aspects to formulate more effective responses to future medical emergencies.

The Sabah assembly should also enact a Public Health Ordinance for Sabah as per the existing provision of Item 7 on the Concurrent List.

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