Saturday, January 23, 2021

Ex-speaker tells how to avoid pandemic-season elections

Pandikar Amin Mulia says Parliament can be postponed, not dissolved.

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Dissolving Parliament for elections would be disastrous at a time when the country is struggling with a fresh wave of Covid-19 infections, former speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia said today.

Instead, Pandikar, who chaired the Dewan Rakyat for 10 years from 2008 at a time when the opposition started showing a strong presence, said Parliament should be postponed based on provisions in the constitution.

Pandikar said since Barisan Nasional’s (BN) fall from power in 2018, the political situation had become chaotic and uncertain.

He said this had given rise to instability, such as seen in the change of government from Pakatan Harapan to Perikatan Nasional (PN) just two years after the polls.

“This is proof of Malaysia’s political uncertainty and precarious economic position, as a result of instability in politics which became worse when the country was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

With the national budget approaching, he said, people were worried about whether it would receive enough support to be passed.

Pandikar gave two possible scenarios that could happen in line with the Federal Constitution if the budget failed to be approved at the end of the year.

He said Parliament could be dissolved, paving the way for an election, or it could be discontinued or prorogued.

But he warned that if the second scenario materialised, it should not be done as an excuse to prolong PN rule, but rather to ensure the safety of the people which he said was more important than an election.

“The Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia which has been described as a second wave more threatening than the first, especially in Sabah following the state election there, just for a political agenda, should be seen seriously and taken as a lesson.

“Once the Covid-19 pandemic is successfully contained, then the 15th general election can be held, as has been proposed by MIC president SA Vigneswaran,” he said.

Pandikar also suggested a Cabinet reshuffle to form a “caring” government without dissolving Parliament, to allow leaders from the PH opposition to join in.

He said the formation of such a government was important to prove that the PN administration was committed to fighting the epidemic.

“This way, the politicking in Malaysia can be set aside for a while until Covid-19 is defeated.”

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