The response of Dewan Rakyat speaker Azhar Harun of the Pakatan Harapan criticism of his handling, or lack of handling, of the agenda of the upcoming Dewan Rakyat sitting on 26.7.2021 is nothing more than a feeble attempt by him to divert attention from his obvious failure to strictly observe provisions of the Federal Constitution which mandate the tabling of the proclamation of emergency and ordinances issued thereunder at the said sitting as a priority.
Azhar has pathetically been quoted as saying,
“I am bewildered and puzzled. With the collective number of years Harapan has had in the Parliament as MPs and even as part of the government, and with a stellar line-up of well-known legal practitioners in its stable, it doesn’t appear to understand or even know the Standing Orders very well.”
Such a statement is uncalled for from the speaker of the Dewan Rakyat who ought to accept criticism of his handling of his job with an open mind.
A trained lawyer, Azhar is no fool. He cannot claim ignorance of Article 150(3) of the Constitution which is clear and unambiguous in its terms. It states:
(3) A Proclamation of Emergency and any ordinance promulgated 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 ordinance, 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).
Azhar cannot hide behind Standing Order 11(3) of the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat to say that it is the Prime Minister who decides the agenda of Parliament and, therefore, he has to follow his directive, regardless of whether same is contrary to the Constitution, as there can be no doubt that SOs cannot override the express provisions of the Constitution.
Furthermore, SO 14 actually provides for the tabling of the said proclamation and ordinances at the said upcoming sitting as they are clearly matters of urgent public importance.
As such, it is obvious that the SOs actually compliment Article 150(3) of the Constitution and require the said proclamation and ordinances to be tabled immediately at the said upcoming sitting of Parliament.
At the very least, Azhar should reveal if he has advised the Prime Minister of the said Article 150(3) and the need to table the said proclamation and ordinances instead of crying at criticism of his handling of the agenda of Parliament.
The Attorney General must also state if he has advised the Prime Minister of the same as it is his duty to do so as the advisor of the government.
This would also be in line with the view of the King who has said that Parliament ought to be convened soonest for the purpose of tabling the said proclamation of emergency and ordinances pursuant to Article 150(3).
Azhar and the AG should do their jobs and ought to advise the Prime Minister that the said proclamation of emergency and ordinances must be tabled at the upcoming sitting on 26.7.2021.
Their failure to do so amounts to a serious dereliction of their duties, warranting their immediate resignations.
Dated this 20th of July, 2021.
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
CHAIRMAN NATIONAL LEGAL BUREAU
DEMOCRATIC ACTION PARTY