PETALING JAYA : With the federal government agreeing in principle to the idea of having a Dewan Rakyat sitting in a hybrid fashion by blending physical and virtual attendance, MPs say the move was a long time coming and a step in the right direction.
Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz said it was the right thing to do, because “even during an emergency, the principle of ‘no taxation without representation’ remains”.
“This means the people must always have a voice, they must always have representation to provide checks and balances on the billions being spent by the government.”
He said many countries have carried out parliamentary proceedings online and that there was not much to study.
In a statement today (June 4), de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan said the government was in the process of studying the mechanisms that would allow it to work, with a detailed working paper to be submitted to the Cabinet for approval.
Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto agreed, calling the decision “long overdue” and pointing to countries like the Maldives which have been holding virtual Parliament sittings since last year.
“The government and Parliament must look at the hybrid Parliament in a positive light, as it puts the needs of the people ahead of political sustainability and survival.
“A robust democracy can only function when Parliament is allowed to rightfully proceed with MPs from the opposition, government and those independent able to question, query, answer, suggest, propose and criticise without fear or favour.”
Warisan’s Labuan MP Rozman Isli said the decision to have a hybrid sitting was “acceptable”, adding “it is better than no sitting at all”.
Rozman believed the MPs are even willing to take extra precautions just to attend Dewan Rakyat sittings.
“We can wear double face masks, face shields and even have swab tests every week if we have to,” he said.
Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim and Selayang MP William Leong both said that with every parliamentarian already fully vaccinated, there should be no qualms about full physical attendance.
Sim also added the hesitation to reconvene Parliament could affect people’s confidence in the vaccines.
Bakri MP Yeo Bee Yin also raised questions about how long it would take for the government to study the proposal, and said it should not be used as an excuse to delay its implementation.
“Even kids are doing Zoom and Google classes, why should Parliament take so long?”
Subang MP Wong Chen noted that Takiyuddin’s statement seemed to contradict those made by home minister Hamzah Zainudin earlier today, who said there would be no Parliament sitting until the country reaches herd immunity.