Parliament suspended? Lawyer says Speaker’s comment premature as Emergency Ordinance yet to be gazetted

A general view of the Parliament lobby in Kuala Lumpur November 2, 2020. — Bernama pic
A general view of the Parliament lobby in Kuala Lumpur November 2, 2020. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — Lawyer Syahredzan Johan yesterday questioned the rationale for the suspension of Parliament, noting that an Emergency Ordinance to facilitate it is still yet to be gazetted.

On Twitter, the aide to DAP MP Lim Kit Siang then said Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan @ Harun had also acted prematurely in agreeing to suspend the Dewan Rakyat since there was no declaration on it yet.

“So that all is clear: The Proclamation of Emergency does not automatically suspend Parliament. There must be an Emergency Ordinance to suspend Parliament. So far, no Emergency Ordinance has been gazetted for the suspension of Parliament.

“Yesterday, the Speaker issued a statement saying that Parliament and State Legislative Assembly sessions are suspended during the Emergency.

“But in my opinion, this statement is premature. The Speaker should wait for the Emergency Ordinance, specifically to suspend Parliament before making this announcement, and not just rely on the PM’s speech,” he said yesterday, referring to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s announcement on the matter via a live television address on Monday.

Syahredzan also explained that gazetting the Proclamation of Emergency alone is not enough as per the list in the e-Federal Gazette, and that it has to specifically gazette the necessary Ordinance.

“Perhaps tomorrow there will be an update about the Emergency Ordinance. But for now, there is none. Parliament has not been formally suspended,” he added.

On Monday, Azhar said that the suspension of parliamentary sessions due to the state of Emergency does not mean Parliament is dissolved.

In a statement, he said that activities involving caucuses, select committees and the All-Party Parliamentary Group can still continue unless prohibited by any ordinances issued by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah in the future.

Azhar however noted that Parliament is awaiting for the Emergency Ordinance to be decreed by the Agong.  

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced a state of Emergency which he claimed was to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downturn.

Under the Emergency declaration, Parliament and state legislative assemblies will not be allowed to meet, until such a time as decided by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

The Dewan Rakyat was scheduled to meet for the first time this year from March 8 to April 8.

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