Thursday, December 9, 2021

Speakers say Parliament can convene late August or early September

They say they are committed to holding parliamentary proceedings as soon as possible subject to legal and technical matters.

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The leaders of the two Houses of Parliament today proposed a special sitting of the Dewan Rakyat to be held in early August, with a view of convening the first hybrid proceeding of Parliament between late August and early September.

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Harun and his counterpart in the Dewan Negara Rais Yatim also said they were committed to holding parliamentary proceedings as soon as possible as decreed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong last week, subject to legal and technical matters.

The speakers also proposed a special sitting of the Dewan Rakyat in early August to get the participation of MPs with regards to details of the planned hybrid parliamentary proceedings, including amendments to the Standing Orders as well as other technical details.

They said the recently established special committee to implement hybrid parliamentary proceedings would “do whatever it can” to reconvene Parliament as soon as possible as decreed by the Agong, taking into consideration the “powers and commitment of the prime minister” to set a date.

But it said the path to ensuring the success of the hybrid parliamentary session would entail preparations from the legal, administrative, technical, procurement, supply and training aspects.

“The prime minister as the head of the council was briefed on these preparations yesterday,” Azhar and Rais said in their joint statement, adding that they had been received with cooperation and encouragement.

They said the committee to implement hybrid proceedings expects all legal aspects to be resolved by the end of July once it obtains the approval of the bi-partisan House Committee and Rules Committee.

“With that assumption, it is proposed that a special session of Parliament be held in early August subject to the strict Covid-19 prevention measures enforced by the National Security Council and the health ministry,” they added.

They said the proposed special sitting involving all MPs in early August was to ensure that they take part in discussions on the details of the terms of the hybrid proceedings.

Among others, it is suggested that a hybrid sitting of the Dewan Rakyat allow 26 MPs to be physically present, and 10 senators for the Dewan Negara sitting, fulfilling the quorum requirement.

“If this proposal is accepted by both Houses, a little time will be needed by the Parliament to procure supplies, integrate the hybrid conference system with the existing system, conduct a trial run and commissioning as well as training for staff and MPs,” they said.

Parliament proceedings have been suspended since January under the state of emergency declared amid a fierce spike of Covid-19 cases.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah had said after a series of audiences with politicians this month that a Parliament sitting should be held as quickly as possible to allow the emergency ordinances and National Recovery Plan to be debated in the Dewan Rakyat.

In a later statement, the Malay rulers agreed with the king that Parliament should be allowed to convene as soon as possible.

They also agreed that there was no need to extend the state of emergency beyond its expected deadline of Aug 1.

Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohd Rashid Hasnon said this week that Parliament has the facilities needed to implement a hybrid sitting at any time.

He said Parliament was also in the process of finalising other technical aspects.

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