Convene normal Parliament sitting, hybrid idea is half-baked, says Shafie Apdal

Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal speaks during a joint interview in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia July 14, 2020. — Reuters pic
Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal speaks during a joint interview in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia July 14, 2020. — Reuters pic

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KOTA KINABALU, June 5 — Calling for a conventional parliamentary sitting, Sabah Opposition leader Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said a hybrid sitting is not enough to thoroughly discuss Covid-19 issues in the country.

The Parti Warisan Sabah president said that it was fundamental and constitutional for such an important legislative body to convene as the Covid-19 situation in Malaysia had gone from bad to worse despite the state of Emergency.

“Parliamentary sessions were suspended in January this year following the declaration of a state of Emergency to deal with the pandemic. However, the number of infections are still increasing rapidly while the rate of vaccination is low.

“We cannot allow this situation to get even worse and now is the time for a conventional parliamentary sitting.

“Conducting a hybrid parliamentary session seems like a half-baked effort. It is not the answer to this crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” he said in a statement today.

He said that it would be safe for Parliament to be held, if strict SOPs are in place.

“Just restrict it to the 220 members of Parliament. There’s no need for their officers to attend. Furthermore, I believe all MPs have already been vaccinated,” he said.

The Semporna MP said that when the state of Emergency was declared on January 12 this year, the daily number of Covid-19 cases then was 3,309 with cumulative cases at 141,533, and the death count was 559.

As of June 3, while still under a state of Emergency, the numbers have surged with daily cases recorded at 8,209 and cumulative cases at 595,374. The number of new deaths on that date was 103 and the total of deaths is now at 3,096.

“It is clear that the government has failed to manage the Covid-19 crisis and appears to be struggling to get to grips with it, much to the public’s frustration and anger. Our country’s economy has reached a point where businesses are being forced to close and people are crying out for help after losing their livelihood.

“Economists, analysts and industries have aired their opinions and made recommendations on what Malaysia can do to prevent further decline. But is the government taking them seriously?

“We need Parliament to sit so we can discuss these issues. We must deal with the pandemic crisis and economic problems in order for us to move forward,” he said.

Shafie pointed out that other parliamentary democracies such as Singapore, the United Kingdom and Australia continued to allow their legislative arm to sit and collectively address the Covid-19 problem and plan for their economic recovery.

“Even large-scale events like the Olympics are going ahead based on SOPs and similarly with Friday prayers. Shopping malls and supermarkets are also allowed to operate with SOPS in place.

“Holding the parliamentary sitting is essential, and if the government can allow essential factories to open, then why not something as crucial as Parliament?” he said.

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