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Malaysian parliament meets for first time this year, MPs to seek clarifications on COVID-19 response

Malaysian parliament meets for first time this year, MPs to seek clarifications on COVID-19 response

Malaysia Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin delivers an address during a special session of the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives) at the Parliament in Kuala Lumpur on Jul 26, 2021, convening for the first time since January after being suspended under a COVID-19 emergency. (Photo: AFP/Malaysia's Department of Information/Handout)

KUALA LUMPUR: A special meeting for parliamentarians kicked off in Kuala Lumpur on Monday (Jul 26), paving the way for an eventual hybrid parliament sitting.

It was the first time that lawmakers gathered in the House of Representatives or Dewan Rakyat after a state of emergency was declared in January.

According to the order paper, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will brief the parliamentarians on the COVID-19 national recovery plan, while Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob will speak on the state of emergency.

Other ministers will also speak about the country’s COVID-19 action plan, vaccination efforts and aid packages.

“Following the briefings, members of parliament can seek clarifications and give their views, ending with the ministers answering the issues raised by them, “  said the order paper.

READ: Malaysia Cabinet pledges ‘full support’ for PM Muhyiddin following UMNO withdrawal

Azhar Azizan Harun, Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives), addressing a special session at the Parliament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Jul 26, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Malaysia's Department of Information/Handout)

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.

Last month, the king held a series of meetings with the leaders of the political parties, followed by a special meeting of Malay rulers.

The national palace issued a statement expressing the king's view that it was not necessary to extend Malaysia's current state of emergency beyond Aug 1, and that parliament should reconvene as soon as possible. 

This was later followed by a joint statement by all the Malay rulers which also called for the federal parliament and state legislatures to convene at the earliest possible instance. 

On Jun 25, the heads of Malaysia's Upper and Lower Houses suggested that a hybrid parliament meeting could be held at the end of August or the first week of September.

Should all legal issues be ironed out by the end of July, a special parliament meeting could be held in early August to approve the measures of a hybrid parliament meeting, they said then.

READ: Record COVID-19 deaths, ICU patients as Malaysia reports more than 14,000 new cases

View of a special session of the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives) at the Parliament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Jul 26, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Malaysia's Department of Information/Handout)

On Jul 5, a statement issued by the prime minister’s office said that the House of Representatives will sit for five days from Jul 26 to Jul 29 and Aug 2, while the Senate or Dewan Negara will sit from Aug 3 to Aug 5.

"This meeting aims at explaining the National Recovery Plan to all members of parliament and to amend all legislation and rules to enable a hybrid parliament sitting."

“Based on Article 150 (3) of the Federal Constitution (which concerns the proclamation of an Emergency), all emergency proclamations and ordinances made by His Majesty shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament,” according to the statement.

Source: CNA/aw

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