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So, ‘science and data’ says Covid-19 more dangerous in Parliament than cinemas, schools and pasar malam now, says Najib

KUALA LUMPUR— Datuk Seri Najib Razak today mocked the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government that cited “science and data” as its justification to postpone Parliament sittings during the Emergency.

The former prime minister was responding to de facto law minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan’s earlier explanation on why the Cabinet had advised the Yang di-Pertuan Agong against reconvening the Dewan Rakyat sitting as scheduled this month.

“After more than a week, the PN government finally responded to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s decree on Parliament being allowed to reconvene during the Emergency.

“Among the main reasons why Parliament cannot be allowed until August 1 is science and data.

The Pekan MP was referring to viral photos that emerged online last Saturday showing Julau MP Larry Sng and Tebrau MP Steven Choong with Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, whom they are now supporting after declaring their departure from PKR to be independents.

Takiyuddin had earlier said Parliament was not “suspended” as widely believed, but only “postponed” until August 1 as 100 out of the current 220 MPs fall are deemed to be high risk for Covid-19 because they are above 61 years of age.

He added that the decision was based on existing scientific and data findings and described the MPs as among Malaysia’s Covid-19 “frontliners”.   MALAY MAIL

MPs say Takiyuddin Hassan was only making excuses for not convening the Dewan Rakyat when the King himself said it could be done. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Perikatan Nasional (PN) government should come clean about the real reason for its hesitation to convene Parliament, several MPs said today after de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan said the Cabinet will not advise the King to allow the house to sit during the emergency period.

DAP’s Charles Santiago said Takiyuddin’s statement was mind-boggling, arguing that Parliament had sat last year at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There was no outbreak of infections. Various protocols were put in place to make Parliament safe. He (Takiyuddin) needs to be honest. Are they worried that they don’t have the numbers and Perikatan Nasional does not have the majority to rule?”

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong said recently that parliamentary meetings could be held during the state of emergency.

Despite that, in a livestreamed press conference today, Takiyuddin claimed the Palace’s statement last week was only to explain that the Cabinet would be the one to advise the King on when Parliament could sit.

He also said the government was concerned about the health and safety of elected representatives, adding that PN’s justification for delaying the sitting of Parliament was “based on science and data”.

The minister added that there was no need for MPs to meet as the King would be able to enact laws through the Emergency Ordinance.

Santiago said Takiyuddin’s justification that the King could enact laws was a clever way of bypassing Parliament.

“Given that the King himself has indicated that Parliament can be convened, why wait? Unless you have something to be worried about.”

Petaling Jaya MP, Maria Chin Abdullah, meanwhile, said there were many SOPs that could be put in place for MPs, such as setting up glass barriers between seats and arranging for Covid-19 testing on a regular basis.

“In addition we have the vaccine – surely this makes a difference. The state of emergency is political, and not related to health nor the economy,” she said.

Former Cabinet minister Zaid Ibrahim similarly expressed disappointment with Putrajaya’s decision not to advise the King to allow Parliament to convene, saying it was wrong and reflected poorly on the government.

“I think it will be a bad omen for this country if we do not follow the law, especially the constitution. One day we will say we do not need an election too. And then what next?” Zaid asked.

He hoped there would be a strong protest against this, adding that there was no reason for the government to be worried about Parliament convening.

“If you have the support in the (lower) house, nobody is going to topple you, so why are you scared to have a sitting? It doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Pekan MP and former prime minister Najib Razak, in a sarcastic jab on his Facebook page, said many were disappointed that the “science and data” had shown that attending Parliament appeared to be more dangerous than several other activities that had since been allowed by the government, such as going to the cinema, reopening of schools or carrying out meetings on election preparations.

Parliament and the state assemblies have been suspended under the emergency declared in January, which the government said was necessary to control the pandemic.

Opposition MPs have questioned the legitimacy of the PN government since it was formed in March last year after Dr Mahathir Mohamad resigned as prime minister. The King decided that Muhyiddin Yassin commanded sufficient parliamentary support to form a government.

However, the PN coalition’s majority has been put in question after several Umno MPs said late last year that they no longer supported Muhyiddin.

Meanwhile, Bar Council president Salim Bashir said Parliament should consider sitting physically, with restricted numbers to satisfy the minimum quorum of 26 MPS. This could be divided between government and opposition MPs, he said.

Alternatively, he said, they could also arrange for full online proceedings or adopt hybrid mechanisms, where some MPs could attend physically and some others could attend online.

“Parliament, as a legislative authority for the federation, has a vital role in a democratic nation – not only to pass laws but also to provide a check and balance to the function of government and represents the voice of the people.”   FREE MALAYSIA TODAY


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