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Why brief encounter in Parliament isn’t enough for rakyat

The people deserve better than a short conversation

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The government’s recent announcement that the long-awaited parliamentary sitting will be held for only five days, starting from 26 July, is rightly considered appalling by many concerned Malaysians.

For one thing, it would be unjust to the rakyat (people). It would seem that the decision on the short duration of the sitting is largely based on some political considerations, rather than the urgent needs of the rakyat.

This despite many Malaysians, including the most vulnerable, having expressed their anxiety and despair on social media, in the face of the pandemic and consequent lockdowns. It should be obvious to many that their public expressions are meant to bring to the attention of the powers that be their socioeconomic plight, which for some, has become so unbearable that even anger emerges.

That’s why they also cry out for immediate assistance on social media. To be sure, these ordinary Malaysians are in dire straits. The #BenderaPutih or white flag movement is testimony to the despair of the vulnerable in our midst. On a positive note, it’s also a heart-warming reminder that there are ordinary Malaysians who are compassionate and caring.

Put another way, there are many outstanding issues that have emerged since the last parliamentary session was held, and they need to be deliberated urgently by lawmakers within a duration that should be more than the stipulated five days.

As it is, the emergency ordinances are anticipated to be debated, which would take some time, as well as the important matter of the national recovery plan.

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It is here that the principles of transparency and accountability must be applied with full force. Issues and policies concerning the pandemic, the prolonged lockdowns and their impacts on the livelihoods and lives of ordinary people must be prioritised and discussed robustly by the lawmakers.

The rakyat, particularly the vulnerable, expect the lawmakers to put their heads together in Parliament to think of ways to effectively control the pandemic and how best to resuscitate the troubled economy, while helping people to get back on their feet again. Partisan politics should be on the backburner for now.

It is hoped that the increasing rate of people who died of Covid-19 infections and suicides, which have also claimed the young, should raise a red flag to politicians from both sides of the political divide to get down to business in the august chamber to find ways and means of helping to arrest this nightmarish trend.

Equally disturbing is that the demand for hospitalisation of Covid patients has reportedly exceeded the capacity of Klang Valley hospitals, threatening a collapse of the healthcare system. This and other related problems, such as the fate of contract doctors, obviously shouldn’t escape the attention of the lawmakers.

The lockdowns that have given rise to a loss of businesses, jobs and incomes, delinquent loans, induced poverty, despair and low self-esteem must be addressed by the lawmakers to ascertain if there are other better, effective ways of reviving the sliding economy.

If education is important to the development of our nation, then the fate of the so-called lost generation of schoolchildren must be addressed satisfactorily. Their problems range from internet connectivity, to lack of communication devices, to mental health, to teaching capacity, to a school curriculum that needs to be attuned to the current situation.

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It is feared that the recent minor cabinet reshuffle and its implications on political alignments and stability would shift, to a certain extent, the attention of many politicians away from the critical issue of people’s survival during the planned brief encounter in Parliament.

The rakyat deserve better than a short conversation. – The Malaysian Insight

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