Houses of Parliament still sit during Emergency — Puthan Perumal

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JANUARY 12 — Perhaps many are wondering what happens to Parliament when the current Proclamation of Emergency is in operation. One might ask is Parliament suspended. Is the YDPA to make laws during this Emergency.

Let us look at the Federal Constitution.

Article 150(2B) states:

“(2B) If at any time while a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, except when both Houses of Parliament are sitting concurrently, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is satisfied that certain circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action, he may promulgate such ordinances as circumstances appear to him to require.”

The key words are ‘except when both Houses of Parliament are sitting concurrently’. We know now based on the prime minister’s announcement earlier this morning where he assured that the Cabinet and state governments will continue to function according to the Federal Constitution and all laws, there is no reason why both the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara cannot sit concurrently. In other words, because the nature of the Proclamation of Emergency is one, not of security or public order, but of economic life, there does not seem to appear any reason for the YDPA to promulgate any ordinances. The two Houses of Parliament can sit and pass laws.

Secondly, Article 150(5) states:

“(5) Subject to Clause (6A), while a Proclamation of Emergency is in force, Parliament may, notwithstanding anything in this Constitution make laws with respect to any matter, if it appears to Parliament that the law is required by reason of the emergency; ”.

Again, abundantly clear that Parliament may make laws while a Proclamation of Emergency is in force.

Thirdly, Article 150(6) states:

“(6) Subject to Clause (6A), no provision of any ordinance promulgated under this Article, and no provision of any Act of Parliament which is passed while a Proclamation of Emergency is in force and which declares that the law appears to Parliament to be required by reason of the emergency, shall be invalid on the ground of inconsistency with any provision of this Constitution.”

This Article 150(6), yet again makes it clear that Parliament can sit during this Emergency because of the words ‘any Act of Parliament which is passed while a Proclamation of Emergency is in force’ appearing therein.

However, the object  of Article 150(6), at first glance, may seem worrying in that it essentially says that any ordinance promulgated by the YDPA or any Act of Parliament passed during this Emergency is valid even though they are inconsistent with any provision of this Constitution.

Should this Proclamation of Emergency had been one declared as a result of security or public order for instance, there may be laws passed during such an emergency  which may take away fundamental liberties guaranteed under Part II of the Federal Constitution.

However, as assured by our Prime Minister this morning that the Cabinet and state governments will continue to function according to the Federal Constitution and all laws, this particular proclamation of Emergency on January 12, 2021, does not  and should not trigger Article 150(6).

To summarise, the Proclamation of Emergency on January 12, 2021, would not require the YDPA to promulgate any ordinances as both the Houses of Parliament can sit concurrently, and all laws passed by the Parliament would not be inconsistent with the provisions of the Federal Constitution. In other words, your fundamental liberties, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution, are still guaranteed despite this emergency.

Therefore, in my humble opinion, there is no cause for concern.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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