MPs become legal eagles over Emergency Proclamation expiry

THE expiry of the Emergency Proclamation on Aug 1 saw the Dewan Rakyat briefly turning into a ‘courthouse’ with several legally trained MPs raising arguments on the matter.

Hassan Abdul Karim (PH-Pasir Gudang), who raised the issue, said that due process and procedures should be followed to allow the proclamation and related ordinances to be tabled and revoked by the House.

“If it is not done accordingly, it will give rise to a lot of implications in the future.

“I request for a bit of time so that we can discuss and resolve the matter together for it to be presented to the King,” he said.

Hassan noted the Emergency Proclamation would automatically lapse on Aug 1 and any debates by then would merely be academic.

“The legal process is not in the hands of the Cabinet but in the Dewan as the Constitution is supreme,” he added.

In response, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun said it was his personal view that the proclamation need not be tabled for it to be revoked under Article 150(3) of the Constitution.

“I cannot make an interpretation of Article 150(3) as a lawyer in the House as this is not under my powers.

“But from my understanding, there are three elements under Article 150(3) namely, that it is to be laid before Parliament when it convenes unless revoked sooner or if both Houses resolve to annul it,” he said.

He said the wording of the Constitution clearly stated that it required the proclamation to be ‘laid’ in both Houses of Parliament as opposed to motion being tabled for a vote to be taken to revoke or annul it.

“The Federal Constitution is a specific law and the word used was chosen deliberately.

“The word used also is deliberate as it says that it must be laid and not tabled,” he said.

Azhar, who is a lawyer by profession, said this differed from the wording used in Article 100 of the Federal Constitution where the government is required to table the budget annually before Parliament.

However, Gobind Singh Deo (PH-Puchong) argued that the proclamation should be tabled with a vote taken to revoke it.

“If the Speaker has exercised discretion to allow debates (on the briefings), the question is why exercise the discretion to allow a vote to be taken,” he said.

He said that if there is motion to revoke the proclamation, there should be a motion to annul it.

Gobind, who is also a lawyer, noted that the issue also touched on the principles of the separation of powers.

“We cannot ignore and must give due attention to the separation of powers that the power conferred unto the King is a power guaranteed under the Constitution,” he added.

Several Opposition MPs also stood up to argue on the legal points under Article 150(3) with Mohamed Hanipa Maidin (Amanah-Sepang) jibing Azhar that he sounded like “the best lawyer in the world”.

Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun (Bersatu-Beaufort) joined in the debate, saying that Dewan was not a court.

“Take it to the courts if you want to challenge it,” she said.

Azhar ended the hour-long argument on the issue by calling on Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz to begin his briefing on the government’s economic packages.

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