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MARCH 2 ― It was a year ago on February 28, 2020 that the King summoned then Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof to the palace, twice on the same day, for an audience believed to be about matters related to a proposed parliamentary sitting.
Ariff then released a statement saying the application by then interim Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to convene a special sitting of the Dewan Rakyat the following Monday had been rejected on grounds that it did not meet the prerequisites.
He said the application did not meet the conditions of Dewan Rakyat's Standing Order 11(3). The standing order reads as follow:
“If, during an adjournment of the House, it is represented to Tuan Yang di-Pertua by the Prime Minister that the public interest requires that the House should meet at an earlier date than that to which the House was adjourned, Tuan Yang di-Pertua [the Speaker] shall give notice thereof forthwith and the House shall meet at the time stated in such notice. The business set down for that day shall be appointed by the Prime Minister and notice thereof shall be circulated not later than the time of meeting.”
No one in the right frame of mind would dispute that it is in the public interest that Parliament should meet without delay, with safety measures of course.
It is the Prime Minister's call for Parliament to meet.
Now, given that the emergency is in force and that Parliament shall be summoned on a date as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (the King) thinks appropriate as provided by section 14(1)(b) of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021, the onus is rightly on Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to advise the King following His Majesty's decree that Parliament could reconvene even during the Emergency period.
It must be déjà vu that the King should summon Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Seri Azhar Azizan Harun and Dewan Negara Speaker Tan Sri Rais Yatim for an audience before His Majesty made the decree.
It must be that it's the time to be united. Political differences must be set aside. Parliament must meet without delay ― with parliamentarians in full personal protective equipment (PPE) suits, if need be. Three parliamentarians in PPE suits have been sighted in the Dewan Rakyat before.
The three parliamentarians were under a home surveillance order (HSO) but received prior clearance to enter Parliament from the Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham who said that the exceptions were allowed for under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342).
Whether to represent to the Speaker or to advise the King ― it's the Prime Minister's call now.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.