LETTER | I read with interest Wong Chin Huat’s 'Political ceasefire before Parliament reopens - what are the options?'
Let me be outright, if not blunt. The Jan 11 Proclamation of Emergency does not ‘lock down’ Parliament. A proclamation is what it is: a declaration. Nothing more, nothing less.
It is the ensuing Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 that did it, and still does. Even so, it is not the whole of the ordinance but section 14. The section reads as follow:
(1) For so long as the emergency is in force -
(a) the provisions relating to the summoning, proroguing and dissolution of Parliament in the Federal Constitution shall not have effect; and
(b) the Parliament shall be summoned, prorogued and dissolved on a date as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong thinks appropriate.
(2) Any meeting of the Parliament which has been summoned before the coming into operation of this ordinance but has not been held is cancelled.
Similarly, it is section 15 which prevents the sitting of the State Legislative Assembly (SLA) of each state.
So, what does it take to reconvene Parliament and SLA of each state? Promulgate an Emergency (Essential Powers) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 that removes or deletes sections 14 and 15 and have it gazetted.
It is as simple as that, although arguably it should be preceded by two advice: (1) the advice of independent special committee established under section 2(1) of the ordinance that it is safe to reconvene Parliament and SLAs; and (2) the advice of the prime minister to promulgate the amendment to the ordinance.
The other provisions of the ordinance can remain – importantly the ‘lockdown’ on state elections and by-elections until the state of emergency expires on Aug 1.
That it is safe to convene Parliament can be based on the advice of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (updated May 28):
- If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did before the pandemic.
- Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
The CDC defines full vaccination as two weeks after receiving the second shot of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after getting a single-shot vaccine.
Aren’t the members of Parliament fully vaccinated?
Hopefully, the deletion of sections 14 and 15 can be done after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong meet with political party leaders starting today.
The Agong may then follow suit with a proclamation to summon Parliament under Article 55(1) of the Federal Constitution.
The opposition will have to keep to its promise and vow that there will not be any call for a vote of confidence if Parliament were to convene, but only discussion on Covid-19 prevention measures, the national vaccination programme and related matters.
If this is the political ceasefire to open Parliament, let’s do it.
The people can now look forward to Parliament being reconvened.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.