PETALING JAYA: Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Azalina Othman Said has stirred the hornet’s nest with her letter to the attorney-general, asking that Parliament be allowed to sit, or that a new committee be formed to take over from the Cabinet.
Even those in government are divided about her stand while there are those who feel that her letter adds another dimension to the Umno-PPBM fight that has been on the boil for some time now.
One minister, who declined to be named, said what Azalina said is true. There was no justifiable reason to suspend Parliament when Covid-19 restrictions are being lifted.
“There will be a breaking point, where the government can no longer justify suspending Parliament. So much has taken place, it is embarrassing.”
The minister said there was a need for everyone to be objective in the management of the pandemic using science and data.
Azalina, in her letter to Attorney-General Idrus Harun, stated that she was “bewildered” that Malaysia is unable or refuses to find ways to facilitate parliamentary sittings.
She also mooted the suspension of the current Cabinet and for it to be replaced with an emergency Cabinet with limited powers until the state of emergency is lifted on Aug 1.
Johor deputy Umno chief Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the Perikatan Nasional government was running the country based on a political agenda.
“We have heard from the other side that there are moves by the home ministry to deregister Umno. So I guess this move is to tell them not to mess around with the very party that is keeping them in power,” said the former deputy home minister.
He said Azalina’s calls made sense and had merit as there was no government now following the emergency, which meant his party is not supporting the prime minister.
“There is an absolute absence of checks and balances. Legal experts have also disputed the legality of the bipartisan committee formed last week. This a waste of time as the decisions are not binding.
“We all know it is one man running the country at his whim and fancy — that is Muhyiddin Yassin. The rest are on auto-pilot mode.
“Is this what Malaysians wants to continue with until he decides when we can return to democracy?”
He said the current leadership was leading the country nowhere, adding that this was a dangerous situation.
He said that after six weeks of emergency, nothing has changed and the Covid-19 numbers do not seem to be coming down at all. So, there was no need for an emergency and Parliament must sit so Malaysia can returns to an organised and proper administration in Putrajaya.
Nur Jazlan said there was no such thing as a “Covid-19 emergency” as is being mentioned by the government leaders, adding that the declaration by the King was for a proper emergency.
“However, life is nearly back to normal. So, lift the emergency and let Parliament convene.”
Umno’s Shahidan Kassim said he will only decide on the matter after the newly appointed Emergency Management Technical Committee sits for a meeting to discuss matters related to the ongoing emergency.
“Let’s see what they decide and act on their direction,” he told FMT. The Arau MP said it was crucial for the country to have a stable government to run the country, even if it was by a one-vote majority.
He said if the government remains weak, they may not be able to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic effectively.
PPBM’s Supreme Council member Rosol Wahid, however, defended the suspension of Parliament, stating the emergency was clearly to control Covid-19.
“It is only right to control the Covid-19 crisis the best way we can. Parliament should be suspended so that Covid-19 can be effectively curbed,” he told FMT.
Rosol said that even though all MPs will be vaccinated against Covid-19, time was needed to look at the effectiveness of the vaccination. “That will also take a bit of time as the first phase of vaccination will only be completed in May,” he added.
Umno Supreme Council member Mohd Razlan Rafii said Malaysia was being put in a bad light after the suspension of Parliament in January.
“Even the 90 MPs and former elected representatives from Asean countries are urging for Parliament to reconvene as soon as possible. It is about democracy and about the confidence people will have in Malaysia,” he told FMT.
As such, he said he supported Azalina’s call to speak out against suspension of Parliament.