Cover Story, Current Affairs

First business of Parliament should be to set up a bipartisan Committee on Covid-19

Media Statement by Member of Parliament for Iskandar Puteri, Lim Kit Siang in Gelang Patah on 28 October 2020:

First business of Parliament on Nov. 2 should be to set up a bipartisan Parliamentary Committee on Covid-19 to set an example of an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society”mindset and approach in  the war against the Covid-19 pandemic 

The first business of Parliament on Nov. 2 should be to set up a bipartisan Parliamentary Committee on Covid-19 to set an example of an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” mindset and approach in the war against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Parliaments of other countries have set up parliamentary committees on Covid-19 and submitted reports and recommendations on how the war against the global Covid-19 pandemic could be more effective, as well as the problems faced by most vulnerable sections of the community during the pandemic.

In Malaysia, however, there is not only no action to set up a parliamentary select committee on Covid-19, all other parliamentary committees have come to a standstill since the Sheraton Move plot which toppled the Pakatan Harapan government in February and brought in the Perikatan Nasional government.

 
For illustrative purposes
 

There are ten Special Select Committees, namely on the Consideration of Bills, on Budget, on Defence and Home Affairs, on Gender Equality and Family Development, on States and Federal Relations, on Major Public Appointments, on Election, on Human Rights and Constitutional Affairs, on International Relations and Trade and on Science, Innovation and Environment.

But they have all become “white elephants” as they are under lockdown and have not been able function since the establishment of the backdoor Muhyiddin Yassin government.

In fact, even the Public Accounts Committee have become a “white elephant”, which is quite an ignominy in world Parliamentary history.

It is no exaggeration to say that Malaysia at present has the most Parliament-unfriendly government in the history of Malaysia.

 
29/3/2018, Kuala Lumpur – A general view of Parliament building in Kuala Lumpur. Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
 

Under such circumstances, how can Parliament act on the advice of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and the Malay Rulers on Sunday when rejecting the advice of the Cabinet for a proclamation of a state of emergency in Malaysia so as to set an example to spearhead  an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” mindset and approach in the war against the Covd-19 epidemic?

Obviously, when advising the Yang di Pertuan Agong to declare a state of emergency, what the Muhyiddin Cabinet wanted was to use the Covid-19 pandemic to suspend Parliament rather than imposing any state of emergency on the nation.

 
 

Is the Muyhyiddin Cabinet now prepared to accept and act on the advice of the Yang di Pertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers and launch an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” war against the Covid-19 pandemic, starting from the first day of Parliament on Nov. 2?

Under parliamentary Standing Orders, the motion to set up a bipartisan Parliamentary Committee on Covid-19 must come from the Government if it is to be the first item of parliamentary business of Nov. 2.

The Covid-19 parliamentary select committee should be allowed hold public hearings for members of the public to present information and to answer questions which is not allowed under the present Standing Orders although such a practice is quite common in other Commonwealth countries. 

The Minister in charge of parliamentary affairs, Takiyuddin Hassan has sufficient time to consult with all party leaders to finalise the make-up of the parliamentary committee on Covid-19 so as to be able to present the motion on the first day of the parliamentary budget meeting starting on Nov. 2.

Lim Kit Siang,
Member of Parliament for Iskandar Puteri.

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