COMMENT | Deputy Dewan Rakyat speaker, Azalina Othman Said has made available a letter that she sent to the Attorney-General Idrus Harun dated Feb 17, 2021.
In the said letter, she spoke out against what she described as the "emasculation" of Parliament by the executive.
In the letter, the Pengerang MP said she was ‘bewildered’ why Malaysia was either unable or refused to employ means to facilitate Parliament sittings like other countries, such as reducing the number of MPs present, having flexible sitting hours and broadcasting chamber proceedings.
She also said that by suspending Parliament, there was now no mechanism by which the executive can be held accountable for its decisions during the current health crisis.
The executive, according to her, appears to have “free rein” over the affairs of the country during the emergency.
As we all know, in January it was announced that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, on the advice of the prime minister, had proclaimed a declaration of emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia.
Later on, an Emergency Ordinance was promulgated, again on the advice of the government, with several provisions including suspending Parliament and the various state legislative assemblies.
Early on, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun had said that while the emergency was in place, the responsibilities of members of Parliament (MPs) as elected representatives will remain unchanged as the suspension of parliamentary sessions did not mean that Parliament had been dissolved.
The former Elections Commission chairperson also said that “[…] all activities of any caucus or all party parliamentary groups as well as all special select committees that have been established, can still be continued […]”, while the emergency was in place.
However, Azalina’s letter appeared to suggest ...