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Ibrahim Sani’s Notepad: Day One Special Parliamentary Sitting

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Produced by Astro Awani 

Day one of the special parliamentary sitting took place today. Ibrahim Sani and Raja Ahmad Iskandar Fareez, Communications Director of REFSA, go through some of the salient points that were discussed, including Covid updates, the doctor’s strike, and the national recovery plan.

Summary

Commenting on the parliamentary sitting so far, REFSA Communications director Iskandar Fareez shares that the actions of the government reflect its uncertainty over its support in parliament. Without a clear majority, they are unwilling to put any motions up for a vote, opting instead for briefing sessions. The decision to end the emergency ordinances without consultation by members of parliament shows that having no support, it decided to use other, less accountable, means to get its way. This sets a dangerous precedent of sidelining the parliament and the government would act without the consent of the public.

The goal of reopening the parliament has always been to hold the government accountable, refine pandemic-management measures and open up debate on emergency ordinances. The government’s attempt to hinder these objectives risks jeopardising an effective pandemic response effort that places the rakyat first.

While Iskandar welcomed the government’s move towards reopening the economy, multiple shortfalls in the government’s National Recovery Plan (NRP) is still in need of being addressed by parliament. For starters, the inflexibility of the NRP’s phase progression does not reflect the dynamic nature of the pandemic. The indicators used to determine the re-opening of the economy needs updating, with more focus on the adverse health effects and death numbers instead of daily cases alone.  Moreover, much-needed updates on SOPs and guidelines for sectors are still not delivered. Hence, we must move away from the arbitrary category of essential and non-essential businesses and instead focus gradually opening up sectors of the economy based on transmission risk of the premise using revised and updated SOPs.

“SOPs are there to ensure the people’s livelihoods can continue, not to inhibit it.”

Lastly, the handling of #HartalDoktorKontrak demonstrated an area where the government risks stumbling in handling the pandemic. In this trying time, it is imperative that we increase the number of doctors and upgrade our healthcare infrastructure to manage current and future challenges. Not compensating for the upstanding services of our doctors risk jeopardizing this effort as we may find ourselves in shortage of manpower as demoralization caused them to quit their job.

Unless the government start giving an outlet for productive debates in parliament, it is unclear if progress on important issues will be made.

Watch the video here