Malaysia Defers Special Parliament Sitting Citing Virus Risk

By Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
August 1, 2021 Updated: August 1, 2021

By Hadi Azmi and Yantoultra Ngui
From Bloomberg News

The final day for Malaysia’s special parliament sitting on Monday has been postponed indefinitely because of the risk from a recent outbreak of COVID-19 cases.

The deferment follows a risk assessment by the health ministry, which found that the parliament’s locality is at risk of the spread of infections, according to a letter from the House of Representatives secretary addressed to lawmakers.

Malaysia’s parliament sat for the first time this year last Monday, following pressure from the monarch. A sitting on Thursday was suspended after two staff members tested positive and the health ministry ordered a screening for all lawmakers. The suspension came hours after the nation’s King rebuked a government minister for making misleading statements to parliament, which renewed calls for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to resign.

“Many MPs had expected this. Many quarters think it’s not due to COVID-19,” Member of Parliament Ahmad Maslan wrote on Twitter. “The political crisis must be resolved immediately.”

The five-day session was meant to provide lawmakers an opportunity to grill Muhyiddin over his government’s handling of the pandemic and the economy. New COVID-19 cases have more than tripled to a record since the emergency was imposed in early January, and confirmed cases breached the one million mark less than a week ago. Infections totaled 17,786 on Saturday, a fresh high.

The letter announcing the postponement came shortly after hundreds of protesters, largely dressed in black, gathered in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur calling for the resignation of the prime minister, a full parliamentary session and an automatic loan moratorium for all.

Opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan said the risk of infections shouldn’t be used as an “excuse” to adjourn Monday’s sitting. The statement, signed by opposition leaders Anwar Ibrahim, Mohamad Sabu and Lim Guan Eng, cited the positive rate of 0.9 percent in parliament, well below the World Health Organization’s threshold of 5 percent to determine the number of adequate screening tests.

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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service