PETALING JAYA: Former Dewan Rakyat speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff today threw cold water on a suggestion to suspend Parliament to revive the economy and ensure political stability.
He said such a move should only be undertaken in emergency situations, such as rioting during civil unrest.
Ariff, who was removed from the speaker’s chair on July 13, said even though the country was facing a surge in Covid-19 infections, Parliament could still function perfectly well with proper standard operating procedures in place.
“Why should the functions of Parliament as the representative body under the Constitution be suspended for reasons of political expediency?
“Stability must be seen in context. Prorogation should not be used as a colourable exercise to shield the government of the day from scrutiny by the nation’s elected representatives,” he told FMT.
MIC president and former Dewan Negara president SA Vigneswaran had suggested yesterday that Parliament be prorogued to enable the government to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
He noted that Article 55(2) of the Federal Constitution stated that, “The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may prorogue or dissolve Parliament.”
But Ariff said Parliament should be prorogued only in an emergency situation, such as the occurrence of civil unrest and rioting, “like what the nation experienced in May 1969”.
“Basically, a breakdown of law and order,” Ariff added.
To curb Covid-19 transmission among MPs, Dewan Rakyat staff have installed temporary transparent panels between the seats of MPs in the Dewan Rakyat to enable them to sit in the main block in the house. MPs are required to wear a face mask at all times in the house and to remove it only when they want to speak.
Vigneswaran had said suspending Parliament would be the best solution as it would enable the authorities to arrest the rise in Covid-19 cases and also ensure there would be no “political upheaval”.
He didn’t say what he meant by “political upheaval”.
On Sept 23, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had claimed that he had majority support from MPs to form a government.
Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah had, in a letter to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Harun dated Sept 25, asked for a “guarantee” that the no-confidence motion tabled by Langkawi MP Dr Mahathir Mohamad would be raised during the next Dewan Rakyat sitting.
However, in his reply on Sept 29, which was sighted by FMT, Azhar said he was bound by the rules of the Dewan Rakyat and had “no problem” considering such motions if all government affairs were completed or if there was a motion by a minister under Regulation 14 (2) to prioritise private motions.
“Please negotiate with Takiyuddin Hassan to give priority to certain private motions,” Azhar said referring to the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department who is in charge of parliamentary affairs.”