Parliament has important role addressing National Crisis

Research for Social Advancement (REFSA) press release by Fakhrurrazi Rashid, REFSA Research Coordinator.

Kuala Lumpur, 1 August 2021 – Research for Social Advancement (REFSA), expresses concerns over the suspension of the special meeting of the Dewan Rakyat scheduled for Monday, August 2, 2021. 

While the government has repeatedly reminded Malaysians to shift our mindsets to live alongside Covid-19, locking down parliament flies in the face of its calls of embracing this new normal. How can it confidently assure people that workplaces, commercial areas and other economic sectors can remain open in this pandemic if it is reluctant to do the same for parliament? 

In addition, this postponement disappoints many Malaysians who want the government of Prime Minister, Tan Sri Mahiaddin Yasin to be accountable as per Article 43 (3) of the Federal Constitution and implement DYMM Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s request for parliament to debate the Emergency Ordinance. The government’s reluctance to proceed with this debate reflects that Tan Sri Mahiaddin Yasin’s administration has lost its legitimacy and the confidence of elected representatives in the Dewan Rakyat .

Malaysia’s democracy is in peril. REFSA stresses that this decision sidelines the parliament as an essential avenue in formulating effective solutions for challenges faced by the people as a result of the pandemic and the continuous implementation of disruptive ‘lockdowns’. The postponement of this special meeting also robs the chance for elected representatives to scrutinise the National Recovery Plan (NRP) and Economic Stimulus Packages and offer improvements for any gaps. This will have a direct adverse impact on the lives of the people. 

Therefore, the government needs to continue with the special parliamentary session as scheduled to debate policy issues and the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance. The special meeting of the Dewan Negara which will last for three days, starting on 3 August 2021, needs to be continued so that the government’s policy on managing pandemics and the economy can be reviewed and remedied by the Dewan Negara. 

REFSA also emphasizes the importance of the cabinet to provide information on government policies to the Select Committee. Cooperation with the nine JPKs is extremely important to examine the implementation of government policies so that it truly takes into account the views of all parties and gives a positive impact to the people.

Given the pressing situation on the ground, the Fourth Term Meeting of the 14th Parliament to be held on 6 September 2021 should be brought forward so that parliament can discuss and examine government policies earlier in addressing health, unemployment, and cost of living issues faced by the people. It can also speed up the debate on the 12th Malaysia Plan (RMK12) which has been delayed for more than a year. 

The government needs to see parliament as a strategic partner and build bipartisan cooperation to rebuild the people’s confidence and the country’s direction in the recovery phase. Malaysians deserve to have a government that is responsible and able to work with parliament in these difficult times.

-Published in Business Today on 1 August 2021

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