Is a one day Parliament sitting with no Government agenda or motion to debate any matter that is definite, urgent and of public importance a threat to Parliamentary democracy?

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s latest letter to the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat Dato Ariff to keep the one day Parliamentary sitting for only the King’s speech only appears to be an act of desperation to ensure that no matter of public importance like COVID19, employment, education, gender issues, safety, as well as the motion of no confidence on his leadership will be in cold storage without possibly seeing the light of day.

On the 25th of April 2020 in an interview on RTM, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that he is not interested in politicking as the rakyat appear to be ‘muak’ or sick of politicking. He also said that in the cabinet meeting he stressed and reminded Ministers that this is a ‘functioning Government’.

  • A functioning Government with no check and balance?
  • A functioning Government that acts as a deterrent to Parliamentary democracy?
  • A functioning Government to safeguard their own posts and positions?
  • A functioning Government without bringing matters of public interest and importance to Parliament to be debated?

In less than a month, not only has the Prime Minister unbelievably played such gutter politics by demonising his one-time ally, the DAP while being in Pakatan Harapan but he has also usurped the powers of the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat by meddling in the functions of a living August House, preventing the check and balance of decisions made by the Government and the financial implications in this period of battling with COVID19.

What is the real reason for the Prime Minister and his Government to not hold a Parliamentary sitting for at least 2 weeks to debate the most crucial matter of all – how do we as Malaysians face the next-normal during and post COVID-19?

Parliament is the place for questions and concerns of the rakyat to be addressed and raised for the Government to answer.

The Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, Tan Sri Dato Ariff had announced yesterday that MPs will have new sitting placements while adhering to social distancing requirements, using face masks, using hand sanitizers and thermal scanners for body temperatures to be taken at the entrance.

If such stringent measures can be taken by the Speaker to safeguard the Parliament on 18th May, I don’t see why it cannot be extended to another 14 days.

If all else fails, then the Prime Minister should take a few minutes to Google how other countries have conducted virtual Parliament sittings online.

When countries like Maldives, Singapore, Indonesia, Egypt and even the United Kingdom, which the Malaysian Parliament is modelled after, have conducted their Parliamentary sessions online.

18 May will forever be etched in the annals of the August House as the darkest day in Parliamentary democracy when the Dewan Rakyat will sit for one day alone for the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong to deliver the royal address without any other Government motion, not even on COVID-19.

Kasthuri Patto
DAP WANITA INTERNATIONAL SECRETARY & MP FOR BATU KAWAN
Media statement by Kasthuri Patto in Ipoh on Saturday, 16th May 2020