Law minister Takiyuddin Hassan today defended the move to postpone Parliament sessions under the emergency declaration, saying the government’s focus at the moment is on battling the Covid-19 pandemic.
At a joint press conference with Health Minister Dr Adham Baba today, he said MPs are also considered frontliners whose duty is to work together with their constituents to curb the spread of infection.
“This is a fact,” he said. “In our Parliament right now, there are 220 MPs as two have passed away, that is Batu Sapi and Gerik.
“Of these, 77 are in the 61-69 age bracket. Another 19 are between 70 and 79. This is a fact, you can check.
“Another four are aged 80 and above. A number of our MPs are in the high-risk group. We don’t want our MPs exposed to this risk because we are in a closed and confined area.”
He added that each MP has at least three officers. “So 220 people multiplied by three,” he said. “How many is that?”
He said therefore the matter of the government suspending Parliament does not arise as the emergency period will end on Aug 1, adding that the prime minister had given his word that Parliament would be convened once the emergency ends.
“In the meantime, MPs can focus on fighting Covid-19. That is our explanation, our justification.”
He said this is in addition to the legal grounds for postponing Parliament sittings, which are laid out in the constitution.
“The constitution states that during an emergency period, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong can make ordinances under Article 150 2(b).
“When the Yang di-Pertuan Agong can promulgate laws, there is no need for Parliament to convene for this purpose.”
He also said Parliament sessions had been suspended before, citing the emergency period in 1969.
“During the 1969 emergency, Parliament did not convene for two years from Feb 14, 1969. The next sitting of Parliament was Feb 20, 1971.
“For two years, Parliament did not convene because during this time, the process of promulgating laws was done by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.”