Parliament postponed on legal grounds to facilitate fight against Covid-19

Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan

PUTRAJAYA: Parliament was not suspended but its sitting has been merely postponed on legal grounds to enable the government to combat the Covid-19 pandemic more effectively, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan.

He said the decision was also taken based on scientific facts and data gathered in relation to the pandemic.

He said there was no need for Parliament to be in session during an emergency as Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah could make ordinances as provided for under Article 150 (2B) of the Federal Constitution.

Article 14(1) of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 also clearly states that the provisions relating to the summoning, proroguing and dissolution of Parliament in the Federal Constitution shall have no effect when an emergency is in force, he said.

“Since His Majesty can promulgate laws, the necessity for Parliament to convene has been negated,” he told a joint press conference with Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba at the Health Ministry here today.

Istana Negara, in a statement earlier, said Al-Sultan Abdullah expressed the view that even when the emergency is in force, Parliament can convene at a date he deems appropriate, based on advice from the Prime Minister.

Comptroller of the Royal Household of Istana Negara Datuk Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said this was stipulated in 14(1)(b) of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 which states: “For as long as the emergency is in force, the Parliament shall be summoned, prorogued and dissolved on a date as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong thinks appropriate.”

Takiyuddin said the government took the Covid-19 threat seriously and Members of Parliament (MPs) as frontliners had to work together in the battle against the pandemic.

The government did not want to expose MPs to unnecessary risks as many of them fall in the high-risk group for Covid-19, he said.

According to him, out of the 220 MPs, 77 are aged 61 to 69, 19 are between 70 and 79 and four are aged 80 and above.

“So, we do not want to expose them to (possible) Covid-19 infection by being in a confined area, which is narrow and closed.

“When Parliament is in session, an MP would bring along three officers … just imagine how many will be in the place, together with civil servants,” he added.

Takiyuddin said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had given an assurance that Parliament sitting can be held after the emergency ends on Aug 1. – Bernama