National, Weekly Highlights

Suspension of Parliament will not benefit Malaysians. It will benefit Muhyiddin.

Prorogation of Parliament is no answer to the present political impasse as it will be challenged in the courts as subverting the Constitution and a self-serving gambit to prolong the life of an illegitimate backdoor government

I said three days ago that Malaysia was  now in the midst of an unprecedented political tornado and that the next six-and-half weeks will see plots, sub-plots, counter-plots and counter-sub-plots emerging from the woodworks over the shape and form of the government of Malaysia – as the present backdoor Muhyiddin government which emerged from the byzantine Sheraton Move conspiracy lacked the legitimacy, capability and resources to be an effective government.

The past three days have  shown how this prediction had hit the nail on the head, for there had been a  maze of plots and counter plots, sub-plots and counter sub-plots which  have befuddled ordinary Malaysians, whose  top priority concern is how to win the war against the third wave of the Covid-19 epidemic in Malaysia and set the Malaysian economy on a recovery mode.

There is one new Cabinet list purportedly to be announced on Tuesday where the person who had the dishonour of having the most number of corruption charges in court spearheaded the list as Deputy Prime Minister while there is another list headed by the eternal aspirant to be Malaysian Prime Minister.

There is also the novel proposal to resolve the impasse  by proroguing Parliament under Article 55(2) of the Constitution which states: “The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may prorogue or dissolve Parliament”.

Advocates of this solution argue that in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, “the prorogation of Parliament, which simply means the suspension of Parliament, appears to be the country’s safest bet towards maintaining public order, the life of the economy and political stability”.

The MIC President and former Senate President, SA Vigneswaran, the first to broach this idea publicly,  wrote:

“During the implementation of a prorogation, the sitting of Parliament will be put on hold and the affairs of the nation will be continuously managed and run by the current government. This will ensure a smooth flow of operations within the country as no uprise to the pandemic nor any political upheaval would be manifested.

“The prorogation of Parliament may come to an end once it can be confirmed by the relevant health authorities that the pandemic has come to a steady decline, or in other words, the conditions towards conducting a safe general election are apparent.”

This is a totally misconceived notion and wrong reading of the Constitution, fortified by  Vigneswaran mistaken claim that “this will be the first time that the prorogation of Parliament will be implemented in the country”, as it is the normal practice in Malaysia to annually prorogue Parliament,  marking the end of a parliamentary session and the official opening of the next Parliament session starting with the King’s Speech – except during the period when Parliament was suspended during the May 13, 1969 riots.

The prorogation of Parliament is no answer to the present political impasse as it will be challenged in the courts as subverting the Constitution and a self-serving gambit to prolong the life of an illegitimate backdoor government.

The United Kingdom Supreme Court finding in September that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament was unlawful should be a warning to these advocates.

The  UK Supreme Court ruled on two questions regarding an Order to prorogue the UK Parliament. First, was it justiciable: in other words, could the decision to prorogue be subjected to scrutiny by the courts? Second, was it legal?

The court found that it did have the power to rule on this question. It went on to find that the Government’s decision to prorogue Parliament for five weeks was unlawful, and that Parliament has not in fact been prorogued.

The UK Supreme Court held that “the sovereignty of Parliament would  be undermined as the foundational principle of the UK constitution if the executive could, through the use of the prerogative, prevent Parliament from exercising its legislative authority for as long as it pleased”.

It also expressed concern that responsible government would be undermined and replaced by “unaccountable government” if parliament were prevented by the executive from scrutinising its actions.

DAP is fully committed to support Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the ninth Prime Minister of Malaysia,  but if this is made impossible by the maze of plots and counter-plots, sub-plots and counter sub-plots, the prorogation of Parliament is still not the answer to resolving the political impasse in the face of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lim Kit Siang,

MP for Iskandar Puteri

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