As an MP, I am deeply concerned and disappointed with the Government’s decision to only call a one-day sitting of Parliament on 18 May 2020.
It is true that we are in the middle of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic. The fact is that social distancing measures will need to stay in place even after the Movement Control Order (MCO) comes to an end.
We want Parliament to meet to ensure the welfare of the rakyat and good policies to facilitate the recovery of our economy are put in place.
Approving the various PRIHATIN stimulus packages and a supplementary budget to fund them are just one part of the monumental tasks ahead.
MPs need to ask questions to the Ministers, while the Parliamentary Special Select Committee , an important reform introduced by Pakatan Harapan needs to continue to play its role.
We also will need to draft, refine as well as pass policies to ensure that jobs are protected and that Malaysian companies do not go out of business unnecessarily. The manufacturing, aviation and tourism industries are just the worst-affected: measures will be needed across to board to help these and other sectors.
It is impossible that we will be able to do this with just a one-day sitting.
Here’s another fact: we haven’t heard anything of substance so far from the government on this.
And the stimulus packages—as I have argued elsewhere—are only short-term stopgaps at best.
More will certainly need to be done to help unemployed and vulnerable Malaysians.
We need urgent action now. There is so much that needs to be worked out, including how to restart out economy in light of the “new normal” of social distancing.
This cannot be left to the Executive alone. Rather, the people—through their Members of Parliament—must also be heard and be allowed to scrutinise the policies proposed.
The rakyat and their industries shouldn’t have to and indeed, cannot wait until July for our government to figure out what needs to be done.
That is why Parliament needs to sit sooner and for much longer than just one day.
Steps can be taken to ensure that social distancing is observed.
It should be noted that the Parliaments of the UK and Australia as well as the US Congress continued to sit throughout the First and Second World Wars, as well as during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918—1920.
There is a strong desire on the part of the rakyat that politicians put aside their differences and work to get our country through this crisis.
This does not mean suspending the political and legislative process.
This cannot happen if institutions like Parliament are not allowed to function properly.
I hence sincerely hope that the government extend as well as bring forward the next Parliament sitting with all required social distancing measures in place.
NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
KEADILAN CHIEF ORGANISING SECRETARY
KEADILAN CENTRAL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL MEMBER