Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara Speakers suggest hybrid Parliament could sit late August

Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun and Tan Sri Rais Yatim said that a grace period is still required to sort out the required mechanism for said hybrid meeting system. — Bernama pic
Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun and Tan Sri Rais Yatim said that a grace period is still required to sort out the required mechanism for said hybrid meeting system. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 25 — The proposed hybrid Parliament session can happen in late August or the first week of September this year, the Speakers of the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara said in a joint statement today.

Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun and Tan Sri Rais Yatim said that a grace period is still required to sort out the required mechanism for said hybrid meeting system.

“However, some time is required to make the hybrid Parliament session a success, as some preparations from legalities, administration, technical, procurement, supply and training need to be updated prior, to ensure that the execution goes smoothly,” they said.

The duo added that the matter was conveyed to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday, to which “very good cooperation and support” was received.

They also took note of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s decree to reopen Parliament soonest, as well as the prime minister’s powers as the head of the government to announce a date, expressing their commitment to do everything that they can to expedite the hybrid sitting.

In the statement, Azhar and Rais also proposed for a special parliamentary sitting to be held in early August, to discuss matters relating to the hybrid sitting.

They said that the special sitting is crucial to ensure all MPs take part to discuss resolutions that are needed to be used with regards to the planning to hold the Parliament sitting via a hybrid session, which involves amendments to several Standing Orders, definitions of virtual conference, readjusting the roles of MPs as well as related technical matters. 

“The Special Committee expects that all legal aspects can be ironed out by the end of July, should this matter be approved at the House Committee level and the Standing Orders Committee.

“With this estimation, it is suggested that a special parliamentary session be held early in August, subject to the strict conditions to prevent the spread of Covid-19, that is enforced by the National Security Council and the Ministry Of Health,” they added, referring to the Special Steering Committee on Hybrid Parliament Session.

Azhar and Rais said that the Committee was formed with the intention to provide an alternative sitting, to reduce the risks of the Covid-19 outbreak when the meetings go into session.

They said that the Committee is chaired by them, with members made up of Deputy Speakers and the Dewan Rakyat and Senate Secretaries, as well as the Parliament’s secretariat, led by the Chief Administrator of the Parliament.

The duo said that should the idea on the special parliamentary sitting be accepted by all, a grace period is needed by the Malaysian Parliament for procurement, integrating the hybrid Parliament sitting system with the existing one, conducting a trial-run, commissioning as well as training to staff and MPs.

“The Special Committee has already studied and detailed the technological aspect and the operation methodology of the hybrid session and had suggested to have the Dewan Negara and Dewan Rakyat sitting through a hybrid manner.

“Generally, this hybrid sitting would involve physical attendance of at least 26 Dewan Rakyat members, to abide by the quorum in the Dewan Rakyat, and 10 senators in the Dewan Negara, and the rest have the option to either be present physically or virtually,” they said.

They added that physical attendance however is subject to the conditions set by the National Security Council and the Ministry of Health, at the time of the sitting.

“Taking into concern the said matters and subject to the needs above, it is expected that the hybrid Parliament sitting can be held by end of August or latest, the first week of September 2021,” they added.

Following a special meeting on June 16, the Agong and the Conference of Rulers said it is not necessary to extend the ongoing Emergency period past August 1, and recommended Parliament be reconvened as soon as possible, along with the respective state legislatures.

A day prior to that, Muhyiddin announced that the government is committed to the reconvening of Parliament once the country is in phase three of the National Recovery Plan, sometime in September or October.

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