THE Perikatan Nasional-led government is committed, and has been since early this year, to the reconvening of Parliament when conditions in the country allow – that has always been clear. No one denies the vital role and importance of an active and functioning Parliament as the legislative body of Malaysia.
However, Members of Parliament would do well to remember that their primary job – indeed, their only job – is to serve their constituents. It is not to use their position for endless politicking and jockeying for power.
This reminder is necessary for a particular segment of career politicians who seem to believe that the state of Emergency and the temporary suspension of Parliament were just cynical manoeuvres by the Perikatan government to frustrate their ambitions, and who are eager for Parliament to reconvene only so that they can resume their pursuit of personal advancement.
Claiming that the suspension was meant to safeguard the government from being taken down by some coalitions of disgruntled MPs is an attempt to not only discredit Perikatan, but also to imply that the aforementioned MPs possess the capacity to take down the government.
The Perikatan government has proven time and again that it does not make decisions in pursuit of popularity but to safeguard the public’s interest.
Suspending Parliament was a move that was certain to bring criticism and charges of undermining democracy but it had to be done.
Just as spending billions on financial support for families and small businesses inevitably opened Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to accusations of mismanaging the economy but all this had to be done.
Travel restrictions like the movement control order, in its various forms, are not popular – but had to be done.
Most Malaysians know that this is an extraordinarily difficult time and thus, we require extraordinary measures. They appreciate having a government willing to do the needful, proactively, regardless of the political repercussions.
Obviously, Muhyiddin knows that reconvening Parliament will mean a resumption of rancorous politicking by Opposition MPs scrambling for the votes to unseat him, but he will do it the moment Covid-19 conditions allow him to do so.
He said on Sunday (June 20) that it was not his intention to delay the reconvening of Parliament as there were many issues that needed to be looked into carefully. A committee comprising government and opposition representatives is looking into important aspects before Parliament reconvenes and it would decide whether the reconvening should be a physical or hybrid sitting.
All matters must be scrutinised to avoid problems after its implementation. It isn’t that the government is trying to deny the rights of elected representatives or acting against the King’s view, as His Majesty had wanted Parliament to reconvene as soon as possible.
Currently, the Perikatan government is effectively serving the interests of all Malaysians, regardless of party affiliation. The suspension of Parliament was undertaken for these interests, and its eventual reconvening will follow the same principle.
Opposition is necessary for a healthy democracy, no doubt, but the opposition should represent the interests of their constituencies, not their own ambitions.
Former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad made it very clear that any failure by the King to heed the advice in his official duties would only open up a legal challenge in which the Attorney General could not defend him.
His views as contained in a joint statement with senior law lecturer, Professor Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz, in response to calls from the Malay Rulers and politicians urging Putrajaya to reconvene Parliament, was run by a news portal.
“The wise Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers should be constantly vigilant that he is the constitutional monarch as entrusted by the Constitution. His Majesty is also subject to the rule of law and must comply with the provisions of the Constitution,” they said in the statement.
They were of one mind that the government was ultimately responsible for all decisions made by the King based on the advice of the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Attorney General, although these might be disliked by the opposition, non-governmental organisations and the public.
“Their remedy is at the ballot box. They can criticise the government and the ruling party as loudly as they want but they cannot criticise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the AG.
"That is how a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy work,” the statement said.
This is a government of integrity and the people recognise it. We have longed most of our lives for such a government and that is why we support Perikatan even in the decisions we find difficult to bear because we know they are for our own good.