KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Takiyuddin Hassan has reiterated that there would be no parliamentary sittings during Malaysia's state of emergency which is slated to last until Aug 1.
Speaking during a press conference on Wednesday (Mar 3), Mr Takiyuddin emphasised that parliamentary sittings may only be held if there is a decision made by the Cabinet.
"Currently, the Cabinet ministers have advised the king that there won't be any parliamentary sittings. This is the current situation," said the minister in-charge of parliament and law.
His comments came a week after Malaysia's King Al-Sultan Abdullah said that parliament can convene during a state of emergency, on a date that he deems suitable and taking into consideration the prime minister's advice.
The statement made by the national palace said: "Hence, the view by certain parties that the emergency proclamation stops parliament from convening is not accurate."
Observers have said that the palace's statement could open the door for the opposition to launch a fresh confidence vote to challenge Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
However, in the press conference on Wednesday, Mr Takiyuddin clarified that the statement made by the national palace acknowledged that parliamentary sessions may only be called on the advice of Cabinet ministers.
He added that based on section 14(1) of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021, it is clearly stated that there will be no parliamentary sittings during the period of Malaysia's state of emergency, unless it is called on the advice of the prime minister, following a decision from the Cabinet.
READ: Malaysia PM Muhyiddin reiterates that he will advise king to dissolve parliament once pandemic is over
On why the Cabinet has decided not to hold parliamentary sessions, Mr Takiyuddin said the king may issue emergency ordinances during the state of emergency. Hence, it was no longer necessary for parliament to sit and pass laws, he added.
Furthermore, he added that the focus of the government and the members of parliament (MPs) presently is to curb the spread of COVID-19.
"We see that the focus of the government is to curb the spread of COVID-19, including the MPs who are frontliners to ensure that the people in their respective constituencies are working together to overcome the pandemic," said Mr Takiyuddin.
"Our focus now is on COVID-19. So we can postpone parliamentary sittings at this point," he added.
He also pointed out that 100 out of the 220 MPs are above 60 years old, and hence this group can be classified under the category of people at risk of serious complications if infected by COVID-19 .
"We don't want our MPs to be exposed to COVID-19 because parliament is a confined area," said Mr Takiyuddin.
He added that Mr Muhyiddin has given assurance that parliament will sit after the state of emergency.
In a speech on Monday, Mr Muhyiddin reiterated that he will dissolve parliament once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
He said: “The main focus of this government at this moment is to steer this country clear of the double whammy of health and economic crises. Once the pandemic is over, which I hope will be very soon, I will advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve the Parliament.”
COVID-19 PATIENTS, SUSPECTED CASES TO BE ISSUED TRACKING DEVICES
Mr Takiyuddin, alongside Health Minister Adham Baba, also announced during Wednesday's press conference that a new provision in the emergency ordinance has been issued mandating COVID-19 patients, as well as people under investigation (PUI) or people under surveillance (PUS), to wear electronic monitoring devices to track their movements.
Dr Adham explained that PUI refers on those who are suspected to have contracted the virus based on their travel history to red zones. They would also have undergone the RTK-Antigen swab test and are waiting for the second reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test.
Meanwhile, PUS are identified as close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients.
The device, similar to those worn by prison inmates out on parole, will be fitted on a COVID-19 patients, as well as individuals classified as PUI or PUS, for 10 days, said Mr Takiyuddin.
He added that this was one of five new provisions and five amendments made to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342), which will be enforced from Mar 11.
Mr Takiyuddin added that a penalty will be imposed to those required to wear the devices but failed to do so.
Dr Adham stressed that COVID-19 patients who are treated at low-risk quarantine centres or at home will be required to wear the device.
On Tuesday, Malaysia announced that it will ease COVID-19 restrictions for most areas of the country.
The movement control order (MCO) in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Penang has been replaced by conditional MCO (CMCO).
Additionally, Melaka, Pahang, Sabah, Terengganu, as well as the federal territories of Putrajaya and Labuan will be placed under the recovery movement control order (RMCO). These areas were previously under CMCO.
Malaysia also kicked off its national COVID-19 immunisation programme on Feb 24. It is targeting to immunise 80 per cent of its 32 million population in a year to achieve herd immunity.
On Tuesday, Malaysia recorded 1,555 new COVID-19 cases.
So far, Malaysia has reported a cumulative tally of 304,135 infections and 1,141 deaths.