The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (BERSIH 2.0) refers to the announcement by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday, 15 June 2021, that the Parliament will be reconvened in September or October during the Phase III of the National Recovery Plan. Muhyiddin said that parliamentary democracy will be allowed to function at the right time if the COVID-19 daily cases are below 500.
BERSIH 2.0 maintains that the Parliament can function despite the COVID-19 pandemic and should not have been suspended in the first place. We only have to look at the examples of the UK, Australia, the USA, Singapore, and almost all democracies around the world that have adapted to the challenges and allowed their parliaments to function either virtually or in a hybrid manner.
BERSIH 2.0 objects to the condition set by the PM that he would only be reconvening the Parliament once COVID-19 cases are “under control and we almost achieved herd immunity status”. To rely on daily COVID-19 cases is unreliable as it can be manipulated through the number of testing done each day.
In the time of national crisis, we need all branches of the government to play their roles, not just as checks and balances, but also to convey the government programmes and plans on the ground through MPs, gather feedbacks and suggest solutions. The MPs represent the voices of the people and the suspension of Parliament has silenced the people.
The Parliament, as one of the three key pillars of democracy, should continue to operate during the pandemic, just like the other two branches of power – the Executive and the Judiciary. With parliamentary oversight, the Executive will manage the pandemic in a more transparent, accountable and effective manner by involving all stakeholders.
We call on all parties to put aside their politicking and prioritise the handling of the COVID-19 crisis. They should come together to have a Confidence and Supply Agreement (CSA) where they agree to support the government in exchange for key reforms that would give the Opposition and all MPs a meaningful role to play in Parliament through the Parliamentary Select Committees (PSC), especially in the management of the vaccination programme and the recovery of the economy.
Reconvene Parliament now!
The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0