Are you a government's lapdog? Ramkarpal asks Speaker Art Harun as Special Parliament sitting commences

"You did not bring the (emergency) ordinances and the proclamation to be debated in this House, why is that? Are you a government lapdog? You have disgraced this August House, you are not fit to sit on that chair. You should resign as the Dewan Rakyat Speaker," Ramkarpal told Azhar. (File photo by Shahrin Yahya/The Edge)

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KUALA LUMPUR (July 26): The five-day special Parliament sitting commenced today with members of parliament (MPs) from the opposition bloc accusing Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun of disobeying the decree by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA) by not including the debate of the Emergency Ordinances promulgated under the Proclamation of Emergency in the parliament agenda.

There will be no voting process taking place throughout the special sitting, which ends on Aug 2.

One of the first MPs to have stood up and voiced his opposition against the Speaker was Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh, who also called for Azhar's resignation.

"You did not bring the (emergency) ordinances and the proclamation to be debated in this House, why is that? Are you a government lapdog? You have disgraced this August House, you are not fit to sit on that chair. You should resign as the Dewan Rakyat Speaker," he told Azhar.

"Did you receive instructions from the government not to bring these matters to the Dewan, is that your agenda? If it is, (then you should) resign. Or we will submit a motion for you to relinquish your seat," Ramkarpal added.

Earlier, Azhar read out the agenda of the five-day special Parliament sitting, which would start out with a briefing by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

According to the agenda, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba will be giving a briefing on his ministry's efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, while Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who is also the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister, will elaborate on the national vaccination programme.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz will then explain the various government economic aid packages while a statement on the implementation of the emergency order will be made by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, expected to be on the last day of the sitting.

In response to the agenda that has been set, Langkawi MP Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad pointed out that this is not the parliament session that was intended by the decree of the Malay rulers and the YDPA.

"The government took such a very long time [to reconvene Parliament] and today they are deceiving the world by saying that this briefing in the Parliament can be considered as a parliamentary session. This is a sham.

"Furthermore, the pressure brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, which is the reason for declaring a state of emergency, is not being tabled to the Dewan to be debated and discussed on the ways we can overcome this issue," he said.

According to Dr Mahathir, who is also a two-time former prime minister, the parliament's convention is that usually the government would come up with a white paper for it to be presented to the MPs, instead of holding a five-day briefing session in the parliament.

"For five days we will be hearing the ministers explain their plans, and these plans certainly have been proven not effective," he added.

Besides Ramkarpal and Mahathir, other opposition MPs who stood up against the speaker included Semporna MP Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo and Sepang MP Mohamed Hanipa Maidin.

For the record, the King has issued at least three public statements to call for the Parliament to reopen in order to debate on the Emergency Ordinances and the Proclamation of Emergency.

Parliament sittings have been suspended for the past seven months since the proclamation of emergency that came into force on Jan 11, which Putrajaya said would provide the government with the ability to mobilise all necessary resources to combat the pandemic.

There has been no parliamentary meeting since December 2020, with the last sitting of the Dewan Rakyat being on Dec 17 and the last sitting of the Dewan Negara being on Dec 29.

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Kang Siew Li