Update: Art Harun clarified to the press that he had used the word “rationale” and not “rationally” in his comment.
Malaysia’s Parliament Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun seems to approve of parliament resuming in three months’ time, despite calls from the king to have it as soon as possible.
The speaker, also known as Art Harun, told reporters today that resuming parliamentary sittings in September, which was suggested by the government on Tuesday, was acceptable and still not too late. His comments came as the king and other Malay rulers called for parliament to resume its sittings as soon as possible and not to extend the ongoing state of emergency beyond its scheduled expiry on Aug. 1.
“The prime minister has the authority to set a date to convene Parliament with the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” the speaker was quoted as saying in multiple reports.
“He is authorized to call for a sitting according to the Constitution, where, in fact, he has stated rationally as to why that timeline is appropriate,” he added. “Among the reasons is because COVID-19 numbers and such, so as for Parliament, we will wait for a date to be set later.”
Malaysia had its last parliamentary sitting on Dec. 14, before the country went into a state of emergency on Jan. 12 that was granted by the king to contain the spread of COVID-19. The coronavirus situation has worsened in recent months, with thousands of new cases reported on a daily basis.
His comment met with criticism on social media today, especially among those who expressed disappointment.
“For courtesy’s sake, at least need to wake Art Harun up first lah…,” one said, while another added: “I really really want to know what happened to Art Harun, heart-breaking change he has been.”
Yesterday, the king and other Malay Rulers decided that there was no need for the ongoing state of emergency to be extended past Aug. 1. The Rulers also said that they were in support of the king’s stance that Parliament and state assemblies be allowed to convene as soon as possible.
Malaysia has reported 673,026 COVID-19 infections and 4,142 deaths since the pandemic began last year.
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