Here's What Happened At The 1st Parliament Sitting During The Emergency

The Parliament sitting has finally convened for the first time since the proclamation of Emergency on 12 January.

Cover image via Buletin TV3 (YouTube)

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1. "Are you a government lapdog?" — Bukit Gelugor MP asked Speaker

Speaking after Semporna member of Parliament (MP) Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (Warisan), Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh (Pakatan Harapan) was the second MP to take the microphone in the Dewan Rakyat in the third session of the 14th Parliament today, 26 July.

He caused an uproar in the august House this morning by asking whether Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun was "a government lapdog" over the latter's decision not to table the Emergency Ordinance in the Dewan Rakyat.

"You were also a lawyer. You understand that the Ordinance and proclamation of Emergency must be brought to the Parliament," said the DAP representative.

"The Speaker must understand rules that regulate the House, and that it cannot supersede the Constitution."

“Are you a government lapdog?" asked Ramkarpal, adding, "You have disgraced this Dewan. You are not fit to sit on the chair."

As Ramkarpal said that, several MPs can be heard requesting Ramkarpal to retract his words. Some MPs can be heard saying "sokong, sokong (support, support)".

The Bukit Gelugor MP asked the Speaker to resign if the latter was partial to the government.

2. Langkawi MP raised grave concern faced by the rakyat

As the third MP to take the floor, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today's session is not a Parliament sitting because the sitting that the country needed was supposed to happen after Malay Rulers and the Agong urged the government to reconvene the Parliament sitting as soon as possible.

The Pejuang pro tem chairman said many Malaysians have lost their loved ones to COVID-19 and deaths continue to climb even though the Emergency was proclaimed on 12 January.

"Right now, nearly 200 people are dying every day. Should we wait until 1,000 people die each day, then start discussing ways to address this problem?" Mahathir took a jab at Azhar.

"COVID-19 started with a few hundred being infected (daily). After the Sabah state elections, it went up to 2,000."

"After the Emergency was proclaimed, it went up to 6,000 and after that, the government came up with a new plan, cases increased to 9,000 and now it is 17,000."

He said the government's plans to handle the COVID-19 pandemic were not effective, adding that the five-day Parliament sitting this round did not need to convene if it is going to be just ministers explaining their steps to combat the pandemic.

Mahathir was later interjected by the Speaker, saying the nonagenarian can push the questions to the government when topics are being discussed.

3. Puchong MP told the Prime Minister to step down

Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo (PH) was the next representative to criticise the government after Mahathir.

He concurred with Mahathir the problematic nature of the Parliament sitting this round if votes on Bills were not allowed in the House.

"I heard the Speaker say earlier that you will give space for questions to be asked and debates to be made, but why stop there?" asked the DAP representative, who is also a lawyer, citing Standing Orders 100 which empowers the Speaker to make rulings on matters that are not specified in the conduct of the Parliament sitting.

"If the Speaker uses discretion in the rules here to allow us to voice our opinions and also speak out, why not be given space for us to make decisions through this Dewan, where we take a vote to make a decision."

"I think this is what is needed. If it is true that this government has already failed, I think it is time for the Prime Minister to resign," Gobind said, receiving loud applause from the floor.

4. After about an hour of turmoil in the House, the Speaker ended the infight with a ruling against "everything" the opposition MPs raised

An enraged Azhar reprimanded members of the opposition for constantly citing Standing Orders to demand the rights to vote in the Dewan Rakyat, while they disregarded Standing Orders that demand everyone to stay silent while the Speaker speaks.

"You keep bringing up the Standing Orders but you yourself do not follow the Standing Orders. The Standing Orders say when I am speaking, the MPs have to keep quiet," the Speaker censured.

"Don't only listen to the Standing Orders when it is in your favour. It applies across the board."

Following that, Azhar made a ruling against "everything" raised by the MPs.

"Because you did not want to listen to what I have to say, all I wanted to say is just one thing, I disagree with everything you raised earlier," said the Speaker, before adding the House would move on to the next agenda.

Many MPs were heard saying that they also disagreed with the Speaker's ruling.

Prior to the ruling, many opposition MPs accused the Speaker of misleading the Dewan Rakyat, breaching the Federal Constitution, and dishonouring the wishes of the Agong.

Among them was Selayang MP William Leong Jee Keen (PKR) who said, "There is blood on our hands."

"What will we tell their families? We have the chance for Parliament to serve the rakyat," he said, urging Azhar to allow motions put forward by Port Dickson MP Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PH) and Beruas MP Ngeh Koo Ham (PH).

The Speaker had previously rejected five motions from Anwar and Ngeh, who called for a debate on the emergency and its annulment.

5. Emergency Ordinances were revoked since 21 July

Not only did de facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan say that the Agong will not be advised to extend the Emergency ending this month, but he also revealed that the government had revoked all six Emergency Ordinances that have been promulgated during this period.

This came as a shock as he said the decision to revoke the Ordinances was decided during a Cabinet meeting on 21 July. The decision was not made public until today.

"Because the ordinances have been revoked, then the issue of annulment is no longer relevant," Takiyuddin said.

The Kota Bharu MP made the revelation after Opposition leader Anwar questioned why the Ordinances were not included in the Parliament agenda to be debated by MPs.

Malay Mail reported that the revocation of the Emergency Ordinances had not been gazetted on the Attorney-General Chambers' website.

Elaborating on the revocation, Takiyuddin said the Ordinances promulgated this year can no longer be applied after 21 July, meaning fines that were issued after 21 July are invalid.

According to Malaysiakini, there are two punitive Ordinances during the Emergency.

Emergency (Essential Powers) (No 2) Ordinance 2021 allows the authorities to penalise fake news, while Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases)(Amendment) Ordinance 2021 allows for a penalty of up to RM100,000 and seven years' jail for breaching COVID-19 protocol.

After Takiyuddin made the revelation, Anwar criticised him for the 'pasar malam (night market)' style of the revocation of the Emergency Ordinances.

"They cannot say 'Today we are declaring Emergency'. Then, the next sitting say 'We cancelled it last week'," said the Opposition leader.

He also questioned whether the revocation received royal consent, or else it would be "an insult towards the Malay rulers, especially the Agong".

Watch the afternoon session of the Parliament sitting here:

Learn more about the proclamation of Emergency here:

Here's what took place in the lead up to the Parliament sitting today: