Legislature not suspended during emergency

Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar

KUCHING: The Parliament was not suspended in the first place, said Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong has stated it clearly that Parliament can sit during this emergency. The provision of Section 14(1)(b) of Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021) is that Parliament shall be called, prorogued or dissolved by the Agong on the advice of the prime minister (PM).

“There has been no suspension of Parliament as many have assumed. It was obviously the suspension of the sitting scheduled under the Standing Orders of Parliament made under Article 62 of the Federal Constitution,” he said.

Wan Junaidi, who is former Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker, said however, the Emergency Ordinance 2021 has laid a condition that the King shall call, prorogue or dissolve Parliament only on the advice of the prime minister.

“This condition is still retaining and adopting the procedure expressed in the Federal Constitution. Corollary, the Agong could not call, prorogue or dissolve Parliament without the PM’s advice,” he said when contacted today.

The Santubong MP said with the Emergency Ordinance, it settled the debate on whether the King could act independently in calling, proroguing or dissolving Parliament.

He also said the prime minister, in giving the advice to the King, ought to refer to his Cabinet, the government’s Special Independent Committee and medical experts on Covid-19 matters which provided the foundation for the declaration of emergency.

Earlier today, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong decreed that Parliament could reconvene even during the emergency period, adding that His Majesty would be announcing a suitable date soon, upon the advice of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“Therefore, the assumption by some parties that the Emergency Proclamation prevented Parliament from convening is inaccurate,” said a statement released by Comptroller of the Royal Household Datuk Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin.

Last week, Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman wrote to the Attorney General criticising his advice for the government to suspend Parliament during the emergency.

The Pengerang MP questioned why the country has refused to employ a means to facilitate Parliament sittings like other countries, such as reducing the number of MPs present, having flexible sitting hours, and broadcasting the House’s proceedings.

The letter was also copied to the prime minister, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun, among others.