KUCHING: Virtual parliamentary sitting is not provided for in the Dewan Rakyat’s Standing Orders, Rules and the Federal Constitution.
Federal lawmaker and former Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said Article 62(5) of the Federal Constitution dictates that a member could only vote if he/she is present in the august House.
“Not even at the lobby, library or lounge of the members but in the House. That is the present practice — a member must be in the meeting chamber of Dewan Rakyat to cast his vote.
“The Standing Orders and Rules of Dewan Rakyat was drafted and enforced in 1959 and technology was not there yet (at the time). Virtual sitting is not provided for in the Rules,” he said when contacted on Sunday (June 6).
Wan Junaidi said he had two or three previous discussions with other legal minds on the subject of a virtual parliamentary meet.
“We all decided that unless the constitution and the Standing Orders & Rules are amended, sitting of Parliament simply could not be done virtually,” he said.
He stressed that a parliamentary sitting could not be equated with any ordinary meeting, including a Cabinet Meeting that could be organised regardless of method or venue.
“But a Parliament meeting is highly regulated and must be on its own terms; that is what the right to regulate its own internal affairs under Article 62 and 63 means. Beside the Constitution, there are the Rules of the House, the Conventions and Usage to be adhered to,” he said.
Wan Junaidi said though there was a mention in the Constitution about irregularity, but Parliament could not blatantly ignore the obvious contravention of the Constitution, the Standing Orders and Rules of the House, just to satisfy political demands.
“That was the reason why I have always insisted to introduce new laws and overhaul the Standing Orders and Rules of the House to overcome current problems and to be ready with the future possibilities of problems,” he said.
On Friday (June 4), Minister in Prime Minister’s Department (Law) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said the federal government was studying a hybrid sitting for both Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara sessions.
“The meeting agreed in principle with the concept plan of hybrid parliamentary sitting where the Members of Parliament (MPs) will have to be present either in physical or virtual,” Takiyuddin said in a statement.
“We decided for a detailed study to be conducted immediately to be presented to the Cabinet for further deliberation and approval,” he added.