MP SPEAKS | The paradox of elected representation in times of Covid-19

MP SPEAKS | What does the future hold for all Malaysians post the movement control order (MCO)? What if this new “norm” is extended beyond 12 to 18 months pending release of Covid-19 vaccine? 

Will there be more unity and solidarity among Members of Parliament (MPs) to support supplementary budgets and new legislations initiatives?

Covid-19 is crippling global politics, economy and social structures leading to government-mandated lockdowns and MCOs. 

These decisions, in addition to compulsory quarantine and travel bans, can be challenged as unconstitutional, which seems unimportant in the face of Covid-19.

However, we’re waging war against a virus where military weaponry is useless against the power of civic consciousness. 

For now, the Health Ministry has assumed the role of a policing authority and for the greater good of people, we must abide by the advice of health authorities.

Terminologies such as isolation, quarantine and flattening the curve are no longer exclusive to the medical fraternity. 

Covid-19 is teaching Malaysians how to survive a public health emergency and understand its impact on governance and law enforcement in times of crisis.

With the judicial system temporarily at rest due to Covid-19, normal court attendance and physical presence of key judicial players such as judges, lawyers, clients and court staff becomes non-operational. Justice delayed is justice denied.

The government must brace itself for inevitable legislative changes.

For example, employment laws is a priority as it affect the lives of millions of people during the pandemic. Other laws include – Civil Law, Criminal Law, Insolvency Act, Companies Law, Local Government Laws etc.

No responsible government can get by with business as usual. Governance in times of Covid-19 demands for creative modifications in the modus operandi of elected representatives, ie. MPs. How do we maintain democratic processes and uphold social justice?

Regardless of which side of the lower house MPs sit, they will be asked these questions by their respective constituents - Did you debate in Parliament for the passing of these laws? Did you prioritise our safety and best interest when these decisions were made?

Will Covid-19 compel us to embrace a much needed new concept of patriotism? Will partisan politics of MPs remain relevant in light of Covid-19?

“The fact that we are different doesn’t mean that one of us is wrong. It just means that there are different kinds of right” – Faith Jegede.

AZALINA OTHMAN SAID is Pengerang MP and former law minister.

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

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