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COMMENT | Prorogation of Parliament - the way forward

SA Vigneswaran

Published
Modified 14 Oct 2020, 12:18 pm

COMMENT | As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the country has suffered in a multitude of aspects including public order, the life of the economy and political instability. 

Even though the latter may have not been directly affected by the pandemic, yet the instability of the political sphere is currently unable to be to controlled or even stabilised. This is due to the implications and restrictions caused by the uprise of the pandemic, in which many from the medical field have dubbed the dreaded third wave.

Pursuant to the ongoing conundrum which has further escalated itself, the political arena represents an aspect of the country which requires immediate attention due to the ongoing political quagmire. 

The inevitable and constitutional remedy to this situation would ultimately lie on the implementation of Article 43(4) of the Federal Constitution, which states that: “If the prime minister ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the House of Representatives, then, unless at his request the Yang di-Pertuan Agong dissolves Parliament, the prime minister shall tender the resignation of the cabinet.”

Furthermore, in the event that Parliament is dissolved, Article 55(4) of the Federal Constitution stipulates that: “Whenever Parliament is dissolved a general election shall be held within 60 days from the date of the dissolution and Parliament shall be summoned to meet on a date not later than 120 days from that date.”

However, the implementation of this article would not be feasible in the midst of the pandemic, as it would result in a similar outcome such as that of the Sabah election. The sharp rise in Covid-19 cases after the recent Sabah state polls should serve as an alarm bell against the holding of a snap general election which is well within everyone’s knowledge and going against it would be utterly preposterous.

Moreover, Election Commission chairperson Abdul Ghani Salleh had on Oct 13 mentioned that during a time of pandemic a general election should not even be considered as it could give rise to a potentially fatal backlash to the country. 

Abdul Ghani had gone on to say that, in regard to the Batu Sapi by-election, the government should be called in to declare a state of emergency due to the situation that they are facing with the pandemic.

Therefore with the wellbeing and stability of the country and its people bearing the foremost consideration in the eyes of the policymakers and the executive, the only viable option that remains at this juncture would be the implementation of Article 55(2) of the Federal Constitution whereby it is stated: “The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may prorogue or dissolve Parliament.”

In light of the above Article, the prorogation of Parliament, which simply means the suspension of Parliament, appears to be the country’s safest bet towards maintaining public order, the life of the economy and political stability.

During the implementation of a prorogation, the sitting of Parliament will be put on hold and the affairs of the nation will be continuously managed and run by the current government. This will ensure a smooth flow of operations within the country as no uprise to the pandemic nor any political upheaval would be manifested.

The prorogation of Parliament may come to an end once it can be confirmed by the relevant health authorities that the pandemic has come to a steady decline, or in other words, the conditions towards conducting a safe general election are apparent.

Even though this will be the first time that the prorogation of Parliament will be implemented in the country, it should be noted that it is a common affair/trend within countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka when faced with an uphill task that would require the safety and well-being of the nation, citizens, economy and political sphere to be taken care of.

Therefore, bearing in mind that this is the first time our country has ever been faced with a pandemic which has been ongoing since early this year and is consuming the lives and livelihood of its citizens daily at an alarming rate, it is only appropriate for a historical solution to be implemented. 


SA VIGNESWARAN is MIC president and former president of Dewan Negara. 

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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