THE first hour of the special sitting was heated up by intrusions and questions from over 15 Opposition MPs who mostly referred to the Standing Order over the absence of debate and voting on matters tabled by ministers.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Pejuang-Langkawi), Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal (Warisan-Semporna), Ramkarpal Singh (PH-Bukit Gelugor) and Sim Tze Tzin (PH-Bayan Baru) were among those who voiced their dissatisfaction over the five-day sitting.
Dr Mahathir said the Perikatan Nasional government was trying to delude the world by holding the special sitting without debate which he labelled a briefing session.
“This is a deception, more so with the pressing Covid-19 pandemic being made an excuse to declare an Emergency and not tabled in the House to be debated.
“On the National Recovery Plan (NRP), if the government wishes to inform this House on these, we don’t need an explanation.
“We need to have a debate on the people’s sufferings, but it is not on the agenda,” said the former prime minister.
Dr Mahathir also asked Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun whether debates would be allowed when Covid-19 deaths hit 1,000 per day.
“After the Emergency was proclaimed, Covid-19 cases 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,” he said.
Azhar interjected and said that Dr Mahathir was free to raise his points when Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin briefed the House on the NRP.
Shafie, the first who stood up for clarification from Azhar, asked whether the special sitting was in line with the decision of Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Federal Constitution.
The atmosphere then got even more heated up when Ramkarpal questioned why the emergency declaration and the ordinance under the proclamation were not brought before the Dewan Rakyat and also asked whether Azhar had received any directive to do so.
“If that was the agenda, resign,” he said.
Sim meanwhile stated that if the special sitting had no debate session, it could be regarded as disobeying the order of Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
“In His Majesty’s statement... this (sitting) is to enable the Emergency ordinance and NRP to be debated by members of the Dewan Rakyat.
“I hope the Speaker does not drag Parliament towards disobedience. The Speaker has a responsibility of defending the Federal Constitution and upholding the decree of His Majesty,” he said.
Following this, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan explained that the special sitting was based on the Standing Orders and it was not the first time it was held.
“Under the Standing Orders, this can be regarded as part of the Federal Constitution as it was made based on Article 62 (1) of the Constitution.
“This is part of the Constitution...based on Standing Order 11 (3) read out by our Opposition friend and which clearly states that in the context of the Malaysian Parliament, there are the ordinary sittings and special sittings,” he said.
Takiyuddin also stated that Standing Order 11 (3) gave the prime minister the power to ask the Dewan Rakyat Speaker to call for a special sitting, while showing the prime minister’s letter to the Speaker on the agenda of the special sitting which was made in the interest of the people, including the emergency proclamation and emergency ordinance.
Azhar, in making the ruling, said the special sitting was held in accordance with Standing Order 11 (3) and he had been told by the prime minister to hold it in the interest of the public.
He said the order clearly stated that the prime minister had the prerogative to decide on all parliamentary meeting matters.
“Hence, this special sitting is the prerogative of the Prime Minister and secondly, the affairs of the special sitting shall be decided by the Prime Minister,” he added.