AG should respond to Azalina’s unprecedented letter

A letter to the Attorney-General (AG) by Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Otman Said yesterday which questioned the restrictions placed on Parliament during Emergency, has been labelled as “historic” by a senior lawyer.

Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos said Azalina’s letter to AG Tan Sri Idrus Harun was a welcome reminder of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.

“This is probably the first time the deputy speaker of the Dewan Rakyat has written to the AG’s office (and made public) her concerns on the restrictions placed upon Parliament by the emergency,” he said.

“Her letter reassures the rakyat that Members of Parliament, what more a deputy speaker, is concerned for the normalisation of democracy and cabinet accountability to the rakyat.”

Yesterday, Azalina made public a letter sent to Idrus where she said she was “bewildered as to how and why we are unable to and/or refuse to employ means in the (Emergency) Ordinance to facilitate Parliament sittings like other nations have, such as reducing the quorum of MPs present, fixing flexible sitting hours and broadcasting chamber proceedings.”

She added: “Instead of improvising so that parliamentary proceedings can take place, the government has opted to suspend Parliamentary sittings altogether. If that was not enough, the AGC (Attorney-General Chambers) has now advised the government, rather restrictively if I may add, that all activities of committees established in Parliaments including special select committees can no longer continue even if conducted virtually.”

Azalina, who is Pengerang MP and a former law minister, had also said that MPs including herself who are members of select committees were prevented from investigating specific issues in detail or performing any scrutiny role.

She also questioned how the executive would be held accountable if Parliament is unable to exercise its main constitutions function.

Jahaberdeen said Azalina’s letter uplifts the spirit of citizens who cherish rule of law, robust parliamentary democracy and an accountable political government.

“I believe the AG’s office will not have any choice but to respond to the letter publicly so that there is further reassurance to the rakyat on the robustness of our democracy,” said Jahaberdeen.

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Assoc Prof Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk echoed Jahaberdeen’s views.

“I think the AG should respond to Azalina’s letter as what is going on now is confusing. As a lawyer, Azalina will know (the law) much better than a layman and the AG himself would know if the suspension of Parliament is in line with the constitution.”

Azeem who is USM’s Centre for Policy Research and International Studies Director, said: “We just don’t know what is going on in Malaysia. Things are not clear. We would expect such questions (by Azalina) to be raised by the opposition, but not a member of the ruling coalition.”

Here’s the round-up of The News Normal today.

ROSMAH TO ENTER DEFENCE OVER SOLAR HYBRID PROJECT

Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, has been called by the Kuala Lumpur High Court to enter her defence on three corruption charges involving a solar hybrid project for 369 rural schools in Sarawak.

Rosmah, 70, the wife of former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, is set to testify under oath on the witness stand on June 9.

She was accused of soliciting a RM187.5 million bribe for the RM1.25 billion project that was awarded to Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd director Saidi Abang Samsudin between January and April 2016 through her aide Datuk Rizal Mansor.

Rosmah was also charged with receiving a total of RM6.5 million — RM5 million and RM1.5 million from Saidi between Dec 20, 2016 and Sept 7, 2017 at her official residence in Seri Perdana, Putrajaya and her private residence in Jalan Langgak Duta.

The prosecution team is led by former Federal Court Judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram and assisted by Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Abdul Gharib. Datuk Jagjit Singh and Datuk Akberdin Abdul Kadir are representing Rosmah.

MORE THAN TWO PER TABLE, CAR FOR MCO STATES

Beginning tomorrow those residing in states under the Movement Control Order will be allowed to dine in at restaurants with more than two persons per table, depending on the size of the table.

The government has also decided to allow more than two persons in a car to travel in states under MCO, also depending on the capacity of the vehicle.

VIRTUAL CNY OPEN HOUSE 2021

The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry will organise the nation’s first virtual Malaysia Chinese New Year Open House 2021 on Saturday.

Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said the celebration would be broadcast through the ministry’s official Facebook @MyMOTAC and Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) TV1 channel at 9pm and will be officiated by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

SUGARBOOK FOUNDER ARRESTED AND LATER RELEASED

A 34-year-old man believed to be the founder of the controversial “Sugarbook” application and website who was arrested yesterday was released by police today after a remand order against him was denied.

Shah Alam Deputy High Court registrar Noorasyikin Sahat – who acted as magistrate – dismissed the application after the man was brought to court this morning.

It was reported earlier that police were investigating the suspect under Section 373(1)(d) and Section 372B of the Penal Code, Section 505(b) of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

The website which was blocked by MCMC recently primarily facilitates the search for “sugar daddies” and “sugar babies”.

‘SOCIAL MEDIA HAS WORSENED RACE RELATIONS IN MALAYSIA’

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Prof Datuk Dr Teo Kok Seong says social media has contributed to the rise of racial tension in the country.

He also said the National Unity Policy and National Unity Blueprint 2021-2030, which was launched virtually on Monday, is building on older policies that failed to eradicate racism in the country.