Arbitrarily postponing parliamentary meetings deepens constitutional crisis

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The Coalition for Free and Fair Election (Bersih 2.0) strongly condemns the arbitrary postponement of the meetings of the Dewan Rakyat and the Dewan Negara on justification of a possible Covid outbreak in Parliament.

The decision to postpone the parliamentary meetings is ridiculous, malicious and dangerous. Last Thursday, only 11 cases out of 1,183 persons in Parliament who underwent the pandemic screening were found positive, yielding a positive rate less than 1%. If the parliamentary chambers with a 1% positive rate are off limits and not safe to reopen, will the whole of Malaysia be also unfit for reopening until the end of next year?

We wish to remind Prime Minister Mahiaddin Yasin that postponing the last day of the Dewan Rakyat meeting and the Dewan Negara’s three-day meeting (scheduled for 3 – 5 August) will neither make the question of government majority nor the constitutional crisis go away.

If the Dewan Rakyat meets as scheduled on Monday, the public’s attention will be drawn to the motion of no-confidence against Mahiaddin Yasin tabled by Parliamentary Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and the motion by Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo to refer the de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan to the Committee of Privileges over the latter’s misleading statement on the revocation of the six emergency ordinances on 26 July.

Postponing the meeting will not erase the public’s knowledge, awareness or memory of these two motions.

As a matter of fact, the government currently has only 114 seats (excluding Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah), if five or more MPs were to apply to the Speaker to move their seats away from the government backbench as Razaleigh did, the government’s majority would be officially called into question under Article 43(4) of the Federal Constitution.

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Bersih 2.0 further reminds the government that it cannot avoid a formal vote that will test its majority: the vote over the royal address, which represents not the King’s personal opinion but the government’s official position, will eventually have to take place in the fourth session of the Parliament sittings. The rejection will mean no disrespect to the King, but only no confidence in the prime minister. As a motion of no-confidence is not needed, no Speaker can save the government.

Bersih 2.0 calls upon Mahiaddin Yasin to honour parliamentary democracy and avoid the escalation of the brewing constitutional crisis between the government and the palace by resuming the sittings of both Houses of Parliament at once and tabling motions to annul the six emergency ordinances.

The postponing of the meetings of the Dewan Rakyat and the Dewan Negara may be construed as a statement of defiance and contempt to the frustrated participants of the #Lawan rally that took place on Saturday morning, defying one of their demands, which is for Parliament to open, hence provoking more citizens to take to the streets.

Any thought of postponing also the first meeting of this Parliament’s fourth session (6-30 September, ie 15 days) in the name of Covid would only deepen the constitutional crisis, as the palace may see the need to make public its defence of our parliamentary democracy. It may exhaust whatever remaining legitimacy the government still has.

Bersih 2.0 urges the health director general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and other medical professionals to give only truthful, reliable and consistent advice to the government. The criteria to open or close a public institution or business entity must be professionally, consistently and unbiasedly applied for them to be taken seriously.

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Bersih 2.0 also calls upon all parties currently in the government and their MPs, namely Umno (38 MPs), Bersatu (31), Pas (18), GPS (18), the MCA (2), the MIC (1), PBRS (1), PBS (1), Star (1), and pro-PN independents (4), to never betray parliamentary democracy in plotting their moves. – Bersih 2.0

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