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Malaysia king reiterates call for parliament to reconvene as soon as possible after meeting house speakers

A deputy speaker of parliament indicated after the royal audience that proceedings could resume "soon".

Malaysia king reiterates call for parliament to reconvene as soon as possible after meeting house speakers

Malaysia's parliament has been suspended since the king declared a national emergency last month. (Photo: AFP/Khirul Nizal Zanil)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has reiterated his call for parliament to reconvene as soon as possible after meeting with the heads of the Upper and Lower Houses of parliament on Tuesday (Jun 29). 

A statement issued by the national palace said: "Following this meeting and the special rulers' conference which was held on Jun 16, His Majesty expressed the view that parliament should be held as soon as possible following the guidelines and COVID-19 standard operating procedures set by the government and parliament of Malaysia."  

"This is to allow the proclamation of emergency and emergency ordinances that have been issued to be tabled in parliament as stipulated in Article 150 (3) of the Federal Constitution," the statement added. 

The king was also of the view that parliament select committees should continue with their respective sessions so that "check and balance mechanisms" may be implemented to ensure "transparent, integrity and accountable governance, especially in addressing public and societal policy issues as well as national financial and expenditure affairs".

The statement added that during the meeting, Sultan Abdullah expressed his appreciation and gratitude for the commitment and readiness of parliament officers to hold a parliamentary session as soon as possible. 

FILE PHOTO: Malaysia's King, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, inspects an honour guard during the 62nd Merdeka Day (Independence Day) celebrations in Putrajaya, Malaysia, August 31, 2019. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng/File Photo

"It should be clarified here that the opinions and calls stated here are the stand of His Majesty the King and the Malay Rulers  - who act as a constitutional monarchy based on the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law," according to the statement. 

Speaking to reporters after the royal audience, deputy speaker of the House of Representatives Mohd Rashid Hasnon said: "God willing, we'll see you soon, either for the normal parliament sitting or via a hybrid parliament."​​​​​​​

Earlier this month, the king, after chairing a special rulers' conference said that parliamentary sittings should reconvene as soon as possible. 

He added that the sittings would enable the emergency ordinances and the national recovery plan to be debated by the members of the House of Representatives.

Last week, the heads of Malaysia's Upper and Lower Houses released a statement suggesting that a hybrid parliament meeting could be held at the end of August or the first week of September

Senate President Rais Yatim and House of Representatives Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun said a special steering committee set up by the parliament office has looked into the technologies and methodologies required to conduct these hybrid proceedings. 

“In general, a hybrid meeting will involve the physical presence of at least 26 Members of Parliament (MPs) to fulfill the quorum requirements in the House of Representatives and 10 senators in the Senate,” the statement read then. 

“The rest have the option of attending in person (based on meeting requirements set by the National Security Council or Health Ministry at the time of the meeting) or online,” it added.

In a separate statement last week, Attorney-General Idrus Harun said the king has to act on the advice of the Cabinet in calling for the parliament to reconvene. 

The Standing Orders of both Houses stipulated that it is the prime minister or deputy prime minister who should decide on the dates to convene parliament, at least 28 days prior to the sitting, he said. 

Mr Idrus said the king's role as a constitutional monarch, who acts upon the advice of the Cabinet as provided under Article 43 of the Constitution, does not change when the country is under the state of emergency. 

Malaysia's Istana Negara, the national palace. (Photo: Bernama)

The king 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 Tuesday, Malaysia recorded 6,437 new COVID-19 cases. There are now more than 745,000 cases and more than 5,000 deaths nationwide.

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Source: CNA/am

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