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Parliament must never be misled

How should MPs behave in Parliament?

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The Malaysian Bar refers to the statement issued by the Comptroller of the Royal Household whereby His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong expressed his disappointment regarding statements made in Parliament on 26 July 2021 by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (for Parliament and the law), Takiyuddin Hassan.

The law minister had announced that all emergency ordinances promulgated by His Majesty had been revoked, when in fact this was untrue since the instrument of revocation had not been presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

His Majesty also highlighted his displeasure that his “titah” (command) to the law minister and the attorney general during a virtual meeting on 24 July 2021 that the revocation of the emergency ordinances be tabled and debated in Parliament was not complied with.

The Malaysian Bar shares His Majesty’s dismay over the confusing statements made in Parliament during its recent sittings. Article 150(3) of the Federal Constitution clearly stipulates:

A Proclamation of Emergency and any ordinance promulgated under Clause (2B) shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament and, if not sooner revoked, shall cease to have effect if resolutions are passed by both Houses annulling such Proclamation or ordinance….”

Hence, the emergency ordinances should have been tabled and debated in Parliament.

The role of Parliament underpins the values needed for the functioning of a democracy. It must therefore adhere to high standards of integrity when discharging its responsibilities. This duty falls squarely on the shoulders of the cabinet, members of Parliament and the Speaker of Parliament.

It is therefore imperative that the cabinet conveys accurate information during parliamentary sittings to ensure that Parliament can engage in effective and meaningful debates. Under no circumstance whatsoever should Parliament ever be misled, even more so during a global pandemic that has upended and thrown the lives of all those in Malaysia into disarray.

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The Malaysian Bar urges the law minister to offer a full and frank disclosure of what transpired in relation to his announcement of the revocation of the emergency ordinances, as this is a matter of great national significance and has a direct impact on the level of trust of Malaysians in our government.

The cabinet, members of Parliament, and the Speaker of Parliament must discharge their duties with honesty and integrity, being fully transparent and accountable as this is the time when Malaysians need to be able to trust their government the most. Those in positions of authority must find effective solutions to combat the problems faced by our country and behave honourably to preserve the lives and livelihoods of its citizens and residents.

The Malaysian Bar calls upon those answerable for this imbroglio to take responsibility and be accountable for their actions.

AG Kalidas is president of the Malaysian Bar

This piece is reproduced from here and has been edited for style only.

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