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The Sarawak State Legislative Assembly building stands on the Petra Jaya side of the Sarawak River. ― Borneo Post pic
The Sarawak State Legislative Assembly building stands on the Petra Jaya side of the Sarawak River. ― Borneo Post pic

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KUCHING, July 29 ― The ‘life’ of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) was extended during the Emergency period of seven months, said former Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

The Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister said the national Emergency did not end the Sarawak DUN’s ‘life’ as per the theory presented by Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Datuk Ali Biju of England’s convention of ‘stopping the clock’.

The actual date of the dissolution of the DUN is vital as it would determine the 60-day period within which the next state election must be held.

“It’s (Sarawak government) not a caretaker government (during the Emergency). Sarawak is a fully mandated government,” he told The Borneo Post.

“DUN was not dissolved on June 6, 2021. Its ‘life’ was extended by the Ordinance. Once the Emergency lapses on the Aug 1, 2021, the whole term lapses as well.”

He added that a caretaker government would only happen after the DUN is dissolved and “there is no more mandate, except under the proviso of Article 40 (2), which lasts until the new administration is sworn in”.

Wan Junaidi pointed out that Sarawak has a written constitution to be followed.

“England has no written constitution like us. Its constitution is based on the Court’s decision. If their Court so decides, then Parliament follows. We have the constitution,” he argued.

“So by convention, we do not follow the counting as per suggested by YB Datuk Ali Biju.”

When contacted, State Legal Counsel Dato Sri JC Fong said Ali was correct in theory but unless there is a new Emergency Order, the Sarawak DUN would dissolve after midnight on August 2, because the present Emergency ends on August 1.

Yesterday, Ali, who is also Saratok MP and Krian assemblyman, suggested the state election was only due in the first quarter of next year instead of within 60 days after the nationwide Emergency ends on August 1.

Ali had disagreed with the view of many lawyers and lawmakers that the term of the Sarawak DUN, which was supposed to have ended on June 6, automatically expires after the Emergency is lifted.

Referring to the ‘Stopping the clock’ convention which is practised by parliaments and legislative assemblies that follow the Westminster system of government, Ali said one cannot count the months during the Emergency.

According to him, since the Emergency started on January 11, 2021, there was a period of roughly seven months when the clock stopped ticking as far as Parliament and the Sarawak DUN were concerned. ― Borneo Post

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