Etched in History: A Cloudy Day for Democracy in Malaysia
Today, May 18, 2020, the First Meeting of the Third Session of the Fourteenth Parliament was held for one day.
On this important day, I would like to record another chapter in history so that our grandchildren will never forget it as they revisit the accounts of our nation’s democracy.
Last Friday, after the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat issued a Media Statement announcing the AMENDMENT of the Meeting Orders, I had sent a letter of appeal requesting the return to the original Meeting Order to accept the motion from YB Langkawi.
In the letter I had also requested for clarification on the Standing Orders used because there appeared to be a clear and obvious contradictions.
The Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat said that the amendments to the Meeting Orders are in accordance with Standing Order 11(2) and Standing Order 15(2).
I referred to these Orders and discovered that it does not speak of the right to amend the Meeting Order by the Leader of the House, the Prime Minister.
Standing Order 11(2) states as such:
“(2) Subject to the provisions of paragraph (1), the Leader or Deputy of the House shall determine at least 28 days before the commencement of each Session, the dates on which the House shall meet in the Session:
Provided that the Leader or Deputy Leader of the House may vary from time to time the dates so fixed. ”
There is no mention at all about changing the Meeting Orders, it is only mentioned that “may vary from time to time the dates so fixed.”
Rule 15 (2) further states:
“(2) Government business shall be set down in such order as the Government thinks fit and communicate to the Secretary.”
This clearly indicated that any business out of the regular order only applies to “government business”. The motion brought forth by Opposition MPs is not included in “government business”.
In the event that the Government really wants the Meeting Orders to be amended, Standing Order 14(2) authorises a motion by a Minister to do so.
However, this does not mean any other agendas can be denied, so long as the Session’s duration permits it.
I also stated that if the YDP again withdraws the move to limit the Session, this would be remembered in the country’s democratic history as a transparent gesture which upholds our parliamentary democratic system.
If not, it will be remembered as the dark point in the nation’s history of democracy when the Standing Orders were easily violated and compromised for personal gain.
Last Saturday, I received a reply letter from the YDP of Dewan Rakyat in which my plea was rejected; however it did not answer the issue I had raised on the Standing Orders.
I am aware this is just a small effort on my part as a Member of the Dewan Rakyat, but I am satisfied that at least I have tried my best to do something in accordance with the law.
Today, the Parliamentary sitting took place as scheduled. Yet, history will remember May 18 as the day democracy was clouded in our nation.
For those who wish to refer to the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat, please click here:
I enclose here a copy of my letter to the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat for the benefit of all.
YB Dr Maszlee Malik
Member of Parliament Simpang Renggam