Ahmad Zahid: Democracy in Malaysia dead after govt suspended Parliament

Bagan Datuk MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi speaks to Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman in Parliament, Kuala Lumpur August 18, 2020. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana
Bagan Datuk MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi speaks to Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman in Parliament, Kuala Lumpur August 18, 2020. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 — Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi described the Malaysian democracy as being wrapped in a shroud (kain kafan, used in Muslim burial), and labelled the system as now being dead.

The Bagan Datuk MP said that this was following the government’s decision to suspend Parliament, citing the Emergency Proclamation which was enforced owing to the worsening Covid-19 situation here.

“The voice of the Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker (Azalina Othman Said) was not hers alone but represented all of us.

“What she wrote in her letter to the attorney general was not only about the law and politics but represented the people’s voice,” Zahid said in an interview with Malaysia Post last night.

Zahid was referring to Azalina’s letter to Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun, in which she complained that Parliament had been undermined during the Emergency, which came into effect on January 11.

She also expressed bewilderment that the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) had advised the government to disallow proceedings for all parliamentary committees, even if they were held virtually.

The Pengerang MP also questioned why the country has refused to employ 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.

In the letter, Azalina also suggested that the current Cabinet be suspended and replaced with an Emergency Cabinet that would have only limited powers until the Emergency is lifted on August 1.

During the interview, Zahid also reportedly said that despite him being a government backbencher, he still needs to speak up for the people.

“MPs should be in Parliament to represent the people’s voice, but when democracy had been laid to rest, will the people’s voice be silenced?

“Why can’t Parliament sit when night markets and shopping malls can open?

“Are MPs more at risk (in Parliament) than when visiting the night market?” the Bagan Datuk MP asked.

Zahid also sarcastically “congratulated” the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government as new Covid-19 cases remained high, regardless of the current state of Emergency and the movement control order (MCO) being enforced, coupled with various standard operating procedures (SOPs) put in place.

“There are estimates that cases could reach 20,000 a day in March. It is indeed a good achievement and major success for our country.

“Surely the emergency should be extended as it is intended for the pandemic. It gives a reason for the emergency to be extended,” he was quoted saying.

During the interview. Zahid also said that Umno is committed to seeing the voting age lowered from 21 to 18, even though some within Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) were now wavering on this.

Last week, Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan said the government should not change its stand on lowering the voting age to 18, which was passed unanimously by the Parliament in 2019.

On Twitter, Shahril said 18-year-olds must be given a chance to vote since the debate was already settled ahead of the constitutional amendment made that year.

Shahril was commenting on the recent controversy in which a Youth wing leader from a Perikatan Nasional (PN) party reportedly said “Malays are not ready for Undi18.”

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