• Office of YB Wong Chen

Parliament restarting for only one day is a telltale sign of PN avoiding proper accountability

Good morning. An extraordinary announcement yesterday. Parliament will restart on 18th May but…. for only one day. This will be a ceremonial event with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong delivering the King’s speech.

Normally, after the King’s speech, Parliament will debate and consider laws for about one month. This is a major departure from the first timetable given by the current government, and also against Parliamentary convention and norm practices.

After the King’s speech, we will then go straight into recess. The second session will start from 13th July and continue until 27th August. After that Parliament will wrap up for 2020 with the third session (also known as the Budget session) from 28th September to 26th November.

Why is the government doing this? Under the Federal Constitution, Parliament cannot be in recess for more than 6 months. The last session we had, ended on 5th December 2019, hence Parliament must resit at the very latest on 4th June, failing which the government will become defunct.

So by maintaining the 18th May date, but doing it for just one ceremonial day without debates, the government hopes to technically, reset the clock for another 6 months of recess. Is this extraordinary move even constitutional?

What assurances are there that the government will not move the goal posts yet again on the second session, and further delay Parliament until November, allowing them to rule without Parliament scrutiny for extended periods.

While the above are heavy questions on the constitutional process, what are the real reasons behind such a move?

Could it be a signal that the government is contemplating a longer MCO period beyond 18th May? Whether true or not, it will not be a valid excuse to delay Parliament; we can conduct Parliament sessions via web based teleconferencing. Further, a Parliament quorom only requires 26 MPs; surely we must have the capacity to do that.

So the real reasons for this extraordinary move are clearly, political. This government is obviously not ready to face Parliament, and by extension, not ready to face the people and be transparent and accountable for their actions. It also buys this government more time to consolidate political power; hence the recent GLC/GLIC appointments.

This extraordinary announcement yesterday, does not strengthen its legitimacy, in fact it further undermines its very shaky legitimacy. Under constant criticisms from UMNO top leadership, nobody is certain that the current government even has the full support of the majority in Parliament. Now we will have to wait until 13th July to find out.