The single-day Parliament sitting on May 18 was valid as it abided by the Federal Constitution and the Dewan Rakyat standing orders, stated an affidavit filed on behalf of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
The affidavit, signed by Dewan Rakyat secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin, was filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Registry on June 22.
The court document was filed in answer to a legal challenge against the validity of the single-day Dewan Rakyat session.
Lawyer R Kengadharan and social activist D Arumugam filed the originating summons on May 15 and named Muhyiddin as well as Dewan Rakyat speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff as first and second defendants respectively.
The two plaintiffs, among others, sought a declaration that the single-day Parliament sitting, which was only slated to hear the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's speech, was not in accordance with the Federal Constitution and, thus, null and void.
According to the affidavit sighted by Malaysiakini today, the May 18 Parliament sitting was said to be valid because there had been two letters issued on the matter.
Nizam said the two letters involved the “Ketua Majlis” having fixed May 18 as the sole day for the Parliamentary sitting, as well as that the sitting was only to hear the Agong’s speech in light of the danger posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the Malaysian parliamentary system, the “Ketua Majlis” is the prime minister.
Nizam referred to a letter dated April 17 which amended the Parliament session to May 18, as well as a letter dated May 12 which determined the single-day session was to only hear the speech by the Agong (above).
The Dewan Rakyat was originally scheduled to sit for 15 days between May 18 and June 23.
“I, therefore, believe and state that the first meeting held on May 18, 2020, does not contravene the Federal Constitution as well as the standing order.
“I have been advised by the senior federal counsel and verily believe and state that the plaintiffs’ application is misconceived (tersalah tanggap) under the law as well as under the standing order.
“I, therefore, believe and state that based on the above statements, the plaintiffs’ application has no merit and seek for it to be dismissed with cost,” Nizam said through the affidavit made on behalf of Muhyiddin (below).
In their legal action, Kengadharan and Arumugam argued that the May 18 single-day Parliament sitting contravened Article 55 (1) of the Federal Constitution.
Article 55 (1) states that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall from time to time summon Parliament and shall not allow six months to elapse between the last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its first meeting in the next session.
The two plaintiffs also cited Order 14 (1) of the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat, which states that unless the House otherwise directs, the business of each sitting shall be transacted in a certain order.
Meanwhile, Ariff stated that the plaintiff’s legal action has no merit because the issue of the validity of Dewan Rakyat proceedings cannot be questioned in any court, per Article 63(1) of the Federal Constitution.
Article 63(1) states that the validity of any proceedings in either House of Parliament or any committee thereof shall not be questioned in any court.
“The First Meeting on May 18, 2020, is in line with the standing order," Ariff said, adding that, "By convention, as the Dewan Rakyat speaker, I only abide by the decision and the setting of dates as well as order of business for the sitting as determined by the Ketua Majlis.
“In any circumstances, if Parliament does not sit in accordance with the standing order, it would only amount to non-abiding with the order of business for the sitting (suatu salah aturan) only and not invalidity (due to being against) the Federal Constitution," Ariff said.
“Any lacking (kepincangan) with the standing order does not in any way invalidate (mencacatkan) Parliament proceeding,” Ariff added.
As at press time, Malaysiakini is attempting to contact the plaintiffs' lawyers over the matter.
The next Parliament session is slated for July 13.