July 26, 2021

Rejection Of Port Dickson And Beruas Motions

Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Leader of the Opposition and Member for Port Dickson, and Dato" Ngeh Koo Ham, Member for Beruas, had on 12th July and 19th July respectively, filed motions seeking the approval of the Dewan Rakyat with regard to the Emergency Proclamation dated 11th January 2021 and Ordinances made pursuant to it. YB Port Dickson's motion sought the approval of the house to debate the proclamation, the ordinances and matters related to the management of Covid 19 pandemic in the country. YB Beruas filed 4 motions - one to annul the Emergency Proclamation and the remaining three to annul three specific ordinances and to have them presented in the house as bills to be debated and approved with or without amendments.

The Speaker of the House has rejected all the motions by YB Port Dickson and YB Beruas and refused to place them on the order of business for the sitting commencing on 26th July 2021.

We are of the view that this rejection of the motions by the Speaker is abuse of power by him and only shows yet again that he is unable to act as an independent Speaker ensuring the proper role of Parliament as a check and balance on the executive. His actions show him to be a mere instrument in the hands of the executive playing out their agendas for them.

In the current circumstances, it is clear from the actions of the Speaker that the PN government is desperate to avoid any kind of vote in the Dewan Rakyat and the Speaker has become their agent to make sure that no vote of any kind can happen.

The Speaker's actions rejecting the motions of YB Port Dickson and YB Beruas are not just politically motivated; they are also a wholesale breach of the constitutional rights of YB Port Dickson and YB Beruas to move motions as clearly envisioned under Article 150(3) of the Federal Constitution to debate and vote on the Emergency Proclamation of 11th January 2021 and the ordinances made pursuant to it.

Article 150(3) provides as follows:
"A Proclamation of Emergency and any ordinance promulgated under under Clause (2B) shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament and, if not sooner revoked, shall cease to have effect if resolutions are passed by both Houses annulling such Proclamation or ordinances, but without prejudice to anything previously done by virtue thereof or to the power of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to issue a new Proclamation under Clause (1) or promulgate any ordinance under Clause (2B)."

What does this mean? In our view, it means the following:
1. Once Parliament sits, any Proclamation and ordinances made pursuant must be "laid before the house" i.e. placed as a formal record before the House. Ideally this should be done by means of a motion but the PN government has chosen to do it as the Proclamation and ordinances were minor regulations. In other words, they are not filing a motion to avoid any kind of vote but are simply putting it on the tables of the members of Parliament.

2. What does "if not sooner revoked"mean? This covers the situation where the Agong acting on the advice of the government agrees to revoke the Proclamation and/or the ordinances even before the sitting of Parliament say on the ground they were no longer necessary and it was best to go back to proper democratic practice earlier than the original planned date.

3. What does then "if resolutions are passed by both Houses annulling such Proclamation or ordinances" mean? It would be clear to anyone even without legal training that the government OR any member of Parliament could move a motion to annul the Proclamation and/or the Ordinances. Although in ordinary circumstances, even if the Proclamation is revoked or not extended ( as is the case now ), the ordinances continue to be valid for another six months ( Article 150(7). The only way this can be done is by filing a motion which is then debated and voted. In fact this is what the previous BN government under Najib Razak did in 2011 when they filed motions in the Dewan Rakyat to annul the then existing Proclamations of Emergency and the ordinances made thereunder.

The right to file a motion to annul the Proclamation and/or the Ordinances is a constitutional right explicitly provided under Article 150(3) and cannot be simply brushed aside by the Speaker. And, this is exactly what YB Beruas was asking the House to decide through his 4 motions. As far as YB Port Dickson, he was only asking for a full debate in the usual manner on his motion, again clearly within the ambit of Article 150.

The Speaker illegally rejected all the motions by YB Port Dickson and YB Beruas. He illegally invoked Standing Order 11(3) which provides that the Prime Minister decides the business set down for a special sitting. That is an irrelevant and wrongful use of SO 11(3) to deny the motions. The Prime Minister had himself fixed the agenda to include statements by Ministers on all the matters raised by YB Port Dickson and YB Beruas, in particular the Proclamation of Emergency and the ordinances.

They were NOT bringing in something which was unrelated to the agenda already set by the government, and even more important, was expressly provided for in Article 150(3).

The Speaker was acting perversely and clearly with a political agenda in using the Standing Orders to deny the right under Article 150 (3). The Speaker adds insult to injury when he claims nonsensically that the motions by YB Beruas are not in accordance with Article 150(3) when they are fully grounded in that article.

The Speaker and government are quite aware that the KIng and the Rulers Conference has made clear in their statements in June 2021 that Parliament is to reconvene as soon as possible and for Parliament to play its role as a check and balance on the executive providing oversight on the way the government is managing the pandemic and running the country. Motions in Parliament are a normal way of doing this especially when clearly implied under the Constitution. The Speaker is clearly disrespecting the clearly expressed wishes of the Agong and the Conference of Rulers by rejecting the motions filed by YB Port Dickson and YB Beruas.

It is clear, as stated above, that the real intention of the Speaker and the PN government is to avoid any kind of vote in the House, Hence these desperate and foolish moves to prevent any motion which would have to be voted on.

In so doing, the Speaker has shown himself again to be unfit for the responsibilities and duties of the Speaker. He should remind himself he is inviting action for his removal as Speaker of the House through such illegal actions.

Committee Members:
YB William Leong Jee Keen (KEADILAN, Selayang)
YB Mohamed Hanipa Maidin (AMANAH, Sepang)
YB Ramkarpal Singh A/L Karpal Singh (DAP, Bukit Gelugor)
YB Sivarasa Rasiah (KEADILAN, Sungai Buloh)
YB Muhammad Faiz Fadzil (AMANAH, Permatang Pasir)
YBhg Fadhlina Sidek (KEADILAN)
YBhg Dr Zulqarnain Lukman (AMANAH)

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