Khairy Jamaluddin, online Parliament and the Standing Orders Committee: Is he making a fool of himself?




YB @khairykj, Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, in attempting to justify why the PN government is not doing a online or hybrid online Parliament meeting is using the excuse that Standing Orders have to be amended and disingenuously trying to transfer blame to the Standing Orders Committee chaired by the Speaker. I am also a member of that committee.

Any reasonable person would accept that in respect of the pandemic we are dealing with a national crisis of urgent proportions, not some humdrum business. Governments all over the world have found ways to hold parliament meetings quickly to explain their health and financial proposals and for accountability. Your administration is avoiding that.

You are now the government. You now can dictate dates and order of business for Parliament meetings. The Speaker’s discretion is terms of making seating ( please see SO 2 ) and other procedural arrangements is actually quite broad. Even assuming amendments are necessary to the SO, all it would take is a straightforward motion by a Minister on the first day of the meeting to suspend parts of the SO thought to be a problem ( which would be readily supported by the opposition ) so that an online meeting could proceed as soon as possible thereafter.

In respect of holding parliament meetings in the current pandemic context, there are also more ways to skin the proverbial cat. The Canadian government, for example, in order to hold a parliament session in accordance with social distancing, sat down with the opposition to work out an agreed quorum compliant number of members to be present and proceeded to debate and approve whatever measures were needed. The Canadian nation and people benefited.

Similarly, solutions for whatever obstacles facing us in holding a proper Parliament meeting over say the next two weeks instead of delaying to July can easily be found. The opposition will certainly cooperate with the government on this. Indeed, we could all be quite innovative about it too!

So YB Minister for STI, there is no need to look for the SO committee or for all sorts of excuses. Just do it or accept that you really don’t want to do it.

Sivarasa Rasiah
Member of Parliament for Sg Buloh.
16 May 2020





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