Saturday, June 19, 2021

Virtual parliament, elections not my jurisdiction, says Noor Hisham

The health director-general says any move to convene Dewan Rakyat sessions online is a matter for the attorney-general to decide, not the health authorities.

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Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah today said he would not comment on any suggestion for a virtual session of the Dewan Rakyat, after his name was cited by Deputy Speaker Azalina Othman Said who claimed that the health director-general had “no objection” to such a move.

Noor Hisham said the matter should be referred to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).

“We in the health ministry are not experts in legal matters,” he told MalaysiaNow.

Azalina today questioned the prolonged suspension of parliamentary sittings due to the state of emergency declared in January.

The Pengerang MP also made several recommendations to facilitate the virtual convening of Dewan Rakyat, saying the pandemic was for the long run.

Among others, she said an ordinance could be enforced so that no motions of confidence are heard in order to prevent a snap election.

“Until and unless the pandemic is controlled and herd immunity of at least 50% is achieved, no general election should be held but instead an interim emergency government with an Emergency Cabinet be formed with representation from all political parties,” the Umno MP added.

Azalina also claimed that there had been no response from the AGC or law minister Takiyuddin Hassan.

Noor Hisham cautioned that any suggestion to go virtual must be studied by the relevant bodies.

“Likewise, many suggested electronic elections, but as to whether the Election Commission (EC) can do it or not… we have to refer back to the AGC and EC,” he said.

He said in principle, the health ministry was for movement restrictions and against face-to-face gatherings.

Parliament and state assemblies nationwide have been suspended under the state of emergency invoked by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in January.

The move came amid threats from several Umno politicians to revoke support for the fragile Perikatan Nasional government led by Muhyiddin Yassin.

Any attempt to bring down Muhyiddin would mean the dissolution of Parliament and snap polls, a scenario that Noor Hisham and top health officials have opposed since last year.

Earlier this month, Noor Hisham defended the move to declare the emergency, saying it had allowed Malaysia to block several by-elections as well as the Sarawak state election due this year.

Noor Hisham also pointed out that it was elections and mass gatherings during campaigns that had led to the current explosion of cases in India, where more than 300,000 people have died from the virus.

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