Reports by TARRENCE TAN, RAHIMY RAHIM, MARTIN CARVALHO and CLARISSA CHUNG
DEWAN Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun (pic) reminded MPs to abide by the Covid-19 standard operating procedure, adding that they can be issued with summonses for flouting the regulation while in Parliament House.
He said parliamentary immunity applied to the MPs only within the confines of the Dewan Rakyat itself.
“Although Parliament is independent, we need to display a good example to the people that we too are subject to the regulations.
“So, it is important that we adhere and follow the SOP strictly. We are only immune with regard to what we say in the House,” he added.
Azhar was responding to a question by Tanjong Karang MP Tan Sri Noh Omar on parliamentary immunity after an MP was issued a notice of summons for not wearing a face mask in the Parliament lobby on Tuesday.
“Parliament is a place where immunity exists (for MPs) and enforcement officers cannot enter to issue summonses.
“If they can enter, where is the immunity?” said Noh.
On Tuesday, the police issued a compound notice to Pasir Salak MP Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman for not wearing a face mask at the Parliament lobby.
The action was taken following a tweet earlier which stated that Tajuddin had allegedly breached the SOP on Monday.
Last month, Tajuddin was issued a RM1,500 compound for not wearing a face mask during a press conference in the aftermath of the collision between two LRT trains.
Meanwhile, Azhar said the Dewan Rakyat would not sit beyond 5.30pm as another four Covid-19 cases were detected in Parliament House on Tuesday.
He was responding to Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin (PH-Hang Tuah Jaya), who raised Standing Order 12(1) and 90(2) on the time allocated for the sittings.
He asked that the period be extended beyond 5.30pm, citing many issues that must be heard in the House and the Covid-19 SOP that needed to be followed by MPs.
Azhar said it was not possible to extend the sitting beyond 5.30pm, given the new four Covid-19 cases.
“If we were to follow the Health director-general’s advice, we will have to finish at 2pm,” he said.
“There were four cases on Tuesday and that is why the risk is high. That is why I have set 5.30pm to allow everyone to debate.”
The Speaker did not elaborate on the four new cases.
However, Azhar said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan, who is overseeing parliamentary affairs, had the prerogative to decide whether to amend the time period of the sittings.
On July 24, three MPs – Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (BN-Bagan Datuk), Nik Abduh Nik Aziz (PAS-Bachok) and Datuk Mansor Othman (BN-Nibong Tebal) – tested positive for Covid-19.
On the first day of the five-day special sitting on July 26, Azhar said two MPs and 12 parliamentary staffers had tested positive for Covid-19.
He added that about five or six MPs and 58 parliamentary staffers were under home quarantine after they were identified as close contacts.