Dr M: Rising Covid-19 death toll shows urgent need for parliamentary debates on pandemic

KUALA LUMPUR: The first day of the special sitting of Parliament kicked off Monday (July 26) with a fiery start when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Pejuang – Langkawi) sarcastically asked Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun if debates will be allowed only when Covid-19 figures hit 1,000 deaths per day.

Dr Mahathir, who interjected during Azhar's opening remarks on Monday morning, had cited the current severity of the Covid-19 pandemic, given the high infectivity rate of new strains.

He also said many Malaysians have lost loved ones to Covid-19 as infections and deaths continue to climb despite the Emergency that was proclaimed earlier this year.

"Right now, nearly 200 people are dying every day. Should we wait until 1,000 people die each day, then start discussing ways to address this problem?

"Covid-19 started with a few hundred being infected (daily). After the Sabah state elections, it went up to 2,000.

"After the Emergency was proclaimed, it went up to 6,000 and after that the government came up with a new plan, cases increased to 9,000 and now it is 17,000," Dr Mahathir said.

Azhar then told Dr Mahathir he was free to raise his points when Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin briefed the House about the National Recovery Plan later in the day.

Dr Mahathir then said he merely wanted the proceedings to deliberate issues faced by Malaysians, and not politics.

He also pointed out the severity of the pandemic at present, given that thousands of new cases were recorded each day and the death toll was also rising.

He said the government had ignored the decree by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers last month that Parliament must reconvene as soon as possible.

"Hundreds are dying each day and many are committing suicide. The people are suffering and they are under so much pressure.

"That is why there was a Royal Decree for Parliament to reconvene as soon as possible, because issues and problems were increasing by the hour," he said.

Gobind Singh Deo (PH – Puchong), who spoke after Dr Mahathir, said the government's legitimacy in administering the nation can only be tested in the House when there is a vote on Bills.

"If Parliament sits for five days and there are no debates, is the House afraid to make decisions on the present government?" he asked.

Gobind also said Covid-19 is a serious issue and the Speaker must not place a limit on the number of MPs present during proceedings.

"If we limit the number of MPs, it is clear that there are efforts to prevent voting from happening, which will show that the prime minister of the day does not have majority support," he added.

Three Emergency Proclamations and nine Emergency Ordinances will be tabled during the special five-day sitting.

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