KUALA LUMPUR: Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar said on Wednesday (Jun 23) that he has given consent for the state assembly to reconvene on Aug 12.
A statement issued by the Royal Press Office said that the sultan will open the state assembly sitting in Kota Iskandar, the administrative centre of the state government.
“I want all state assemblymen to unite and convene in the interest of the people and Johor. Especially with regard to an action plan to aid the lives of the people that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and to work out a recovery plan for the Johor economy.
“I feel very sad looking at the lives of the people who are in difficulty, fear and anxiety at the moment. I am also disappointed because to date, the spread of the COVID-19 virus has still not been resolved,” said the statement.
The statement also said that the sultan had made the decision after granting an audience to Johor chief minister Hasni Mohammad, state secretary Azmi Rohani and state prosecution director Amir Nasruddin on Wednesday morning.
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Johor is among the states that are moving towards reconvening their respective legislatures soon. In contrast, the federal government has earlier indicated that parliament could reconvene in September or October this year, during the third phase of a national recovery plan.
The sultan's announcement was welcomed by state opposition politicians.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders in the southern state expressed gratitude to the sultan for giving consent to reconvene the state assembly.
“The Johor PH is ready to contribute ideas and energy in the interest of the people especially for the action plan to help those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the statement.
Noting that only 14.6 per cent of the state population has been vaccinated against COVID-19, PH said state assembly and parliament needs to convene immediately to carry out its functions and duties.
King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah first declared a state of emergency on Jan 12 to curb the spread of COVID-19. The emergency was scheduled to last until Aug 1 or earlier depending on the state of coronavirus infections.
Since it was declared, federal parliamentary sessions and state legislative assemblies have not sat. No elections were held during this period.
The suspension of parliament was seen as a move that helped prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin avoid an immediate challenge to his razor-thin majority in the august house.
Opposition leaders have pleaded with the king against extending the state of emergency and called for parliament to reconvene.
On Jun 16, Istana Negara issued a statement for parliamentary sittings to reconvene as soon as possible, after the king chaired a special rulers' conference.
On the same day, the Malay rulers also released a statement saying there was no need to extend the state of emergency beyond Aug 1.
The rulers were also of the opinion that legislative assemblies in their respective states should also convene as soon as possible.
"The assembly methods and procedures currently practised in a few countries, which were proven to be able to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, should be introduced and accepted in this country," the statement said.
Over the weekend, Mr Muhyiddin said a committee comprising government and opposition representatives has been formed to look into important aspects before parliament is reconvened.
He said that the committee will consider whether the sitting would be a hybrid or a physical parliamentary sitting.
Adding that the government had to look into all matters to avoid problems after the implementation, Mr Muhyiddin stressed that he had no intention to delay the reconvening of parliament.