As Article 55(1) of our Constitution provides, the Prime Minister may advise the YDPA to postpone the Parliament, provided that it is not to a date more than six months after the last sitting. The act of announcing the 1-Day Parliament Sitting on 18 May has fulfilled the constitutional requirement to a degree of pedantic compliance so as to avoid being seen as proroguing the Parliament.
In the face of a global pandemic, all branches of government must come together in overcoming the aftermath with the Judiciary taking a lead on hearing matters online, a historic first. The newly-formed Cabinet, however, invoked the Prevention And Control Of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and declared a Movement Control Order (MCO) from 18 March 2020. Although the MCO has been effective in its purpose of flattening the curve, the way forward as a nation—such as mass randomised testing or further economic stimulus—remains largely unclear.
Furthermore, from the Secretary of Parliament’s letter to the MPs issued on 17 April 2020, the 1-Day Parliament Sitting is limited only to the Royal Address by the YDPA and discussions on Government Motions and Bills. A glaring omission of any meaningful allocation of time for the MPs to scrutinise the government’s policies or bills regarding its response to the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak such as social welfare, unemployment protections and economic recovery.
HAKAM Youth expresses regret that the upcoming 1-Day Parliament Sitting does not provide a forum or even sufficient time for Parliament to explore measures to be taken as provided for by the Constitution. The deafening silence from the Cabinet and its Ministers on the act of prorogation of Parliament is concerning. Transparency and accountability are the cornerstone of any democratic society; more so when it involves the livelihood of 32.6 million people.
Therefore, HAKAM Youth strongly urges the Prime Minister to allocate an adequate number of days for sittings of Parliament in May 2020 in order to allow the Parliament to carry out its role to hold the Cabinet accountable. The Rakyat’s interests have been jeopardised by political maneuvers before, and there’s no need for the same to happen again.
Members of HAKAM Youth
HAKAM Youth is a committee under HAKAM, the National Human Rights Society