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Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng addresses reporters in front of the Dang Wangi district police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur August 4, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng addresses reporters in front of the Dang Wangi district police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur August 4, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 4 — The Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) today urged Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to convene a full Parliament session as soon as possible.

The call followed Umno’s pullout from the Perikatan Nasional-led (PN) government yesterday as well as news reports and images of federal lawmakers being barred entry to the Parliament building since Monday after the abrupt cancellation of an ongoing special sitting of both Houses, purportedly due to a Covid-19 outbreak last week.

“Southeast Asian parliamentarians have expressed alarm about the new suspension of Parliament in Malaysia after months of unchecked ruling by the government.

“The sight of dozens of Opposition MPs being prevented from entering Parliament by riot police should be a major embarrassment to the administration of Prime Minister Muhyiddin, which instead of providing leadership when it is needed most, has hidden behind the pandemic so it can maintain its increasingly fragile hold on power,” APHR board member and former MP in Cambodia Mu Sochua said in a statement.

She said last night’s development highlighted the role of the Malaysian Parliament to scrutinise government decisions and uphold democracy in the country.

“While governments must sometimes take extraordinary measures to tackle health emergencies such as Covid-19, when extremely important decisions are being taken for the country and with drastic consequences on people’s human rights, it is absolutely crucial for the Parliament to function effectively, to ensure transparency and accountability.  

“MPs should also not face any judicial proceedings for merely trying to do their job as representative of the people, and conducting peaceful protest,” Mu added.

Opposition MPs and senators mounted a march on Parliament on Monday and again yesterday but were prevented from entering the grounds.

The MPs then moved to the Merdeka Square nearby to rally and demand for Muhyiddin and his Cabinet’s resignation following the alarming increase in Covid-19 infections despite prolonged lockdown measures during the nationwide Emergency that was declared on January 12 and which expired on August 1.

A special sitting of the Dewan Rakyat, the Lower House of Parliament, was held on July 26 but cut short last Monday due to the discovery of 11 Covid-19 cases involving parliament staff.

The Dewan Negara, the Upper House of Parliament, was supposed to sit for three days starting yesterday, but it too was cancelled due to the Covid-19 cases.

Several Opposition MPs were summoned for police questioning today. Among those seen at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters were Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng from DAP, independent  Simpang Renggam Maszlee Malik, and Lembah Pantai MP from PKR Fahmi Fadzil.

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