Dewan Negara staff test positive for Covid-19

The Pandemic #COVID19 strain is now spreading fast as it is in its 3rd Wave and the positive numbers are increasing.

We all need to ensure that we #Staysafe and above all we must practise #socialdistancing plus #wearmask.

Most important we must adhere to Standard operating Procedures {SOP} as per the authorities recommendations.

SARAWAKIANS DO STAY HOME IF THERE IS NO NEED TO GO ANYWHERE.

{Extracted from an online portal with thanks }

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 — Minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan proposed to end today’s Parliament sitting at 1pm after several staff in its upper House tested positive for Covid-19.

He invoked Standing Order 12(1) for the motion, saying it is a measure to prevent further infections.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of parliamentary affairs told the Dewan Rakyat when it reconvened this morning that several Dewan Negara staff tested positive for the coronavirus recently.

He said several senators are now also under the suspects’ list, owing to their close contact with the staff members.

He said that the Parliament, however, has been sanitised in accordance with the SOPs.

Takiyuddin said that the matter to discuss the new parliamentary standard operating procedures (SOPs), including shortening of the meeting hours to 1pm, had been already discussed with representatives from both sides of the political divide this morning.  

However, the sudden announcement did not sit well with Opposition MPs, who questioned the motive behind the decision.

“Honourable Speaker, we all know that this meeting is being held now and I am shocked. I see that preparation for this Dewan Rakyat has been done so well by the Ministry of Health (MoH). All the MPs were given Covid-19 tests and all the SOPs were observed. So I am very shocked if the meeting time is shortened like that. Shortened to 1pm, because we have many motions, many things to debate, and if we shorten the time for the sitting, then this would affect the businesses of the MPs.

“I do not see the rationale to reduce the time, because Covid-19 attacks at any time. Covid-19 does not take a break after 1pm, nor does it take leave from 10am till 1pm,” Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin said, in objecting to the move.

Takiyuddin then sought to explain, adding that the special meeting to discuss the new SOPs was chaired by Speaker Datuk Seri Azhar Azizan Harun, whereby a consensus was reached by all those who attended. He said that a representative of Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah was also present.

“So this took into concern all the views given by any parties, without prejudice. There is no prejudice at all towards this meeting, as how I mentioned earlier, several decisions will be made, and which will be explained by the party whips to their respective parliamentary members which would not in any way impede the rights and time allocated to debate on the (2021) Budget and others.

“And there is another development which I want to announce. Rightfully, we should not be announcing this in the interest of the public. Several Dewan Negara staff were confirmed positive for Covid-19, and it is expected that there are Senate members who are possibly positive because the (infected) officer is attached to a senator, and may have family ties.

So these are developments which worry us,” he said, adding that the MPs should seek an explanation from their respective parties on details about the time period adjustment.

Takiyudddin said that he has been in Parliament over the last four to five days, and until yesterday, the premises were sanitised by the Hazardous Material Unit Team (Hazmat), as well as the Special Tactical Operation and Rescue Team from the Fire and Rescue Department, which took over two hours.

He added that the Dewan Rakyat is also sanitised every morning between 7am and 9am, before the meeting commences.

“Now, I am not a medical doctor who can confirm this, but we were advised by the Ministry of Health that the risk is very high. That is the term they used. That our seating arrangements in a closed environment like this, although we have glass partitions to separate us, but how effective is it really in helping to curb the spread (of the Covid-19 virus)?

“But the MoH says that the longer we stay together in this situation, the risks are higher,” he added.

However, Takiyuddin said that the new time arrangement “may apply for this week only, before the (2021) Budget.”

He said that after the Budget is tabled in Parliament, another discussion to finalise the matter would be held with party whips.

Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran then called for a virtual parliamentary sitting, adding that the issue would not have arisen had the option been taken, adding that many other countries have made such a move.

Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching, meanwhile, proposed an additional week for the meeting, since the timing of the meetings has been shortened.

The motion was later passed, after which Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng interjected, saying that his party members needed an explanation from Seremban MP Anthony Loke, who had represented DAP during the morning meeting.

“Honourable Speaker, just now you said this motion is just for this week, but this is not mentioned in the motion as it is, so it is still open ended. May I get confirmation? Though the party whips have agreed but the party chiefs have not been informed.

“I discussed the matter with the Opposition chief and my other comrades, and the three of us did not know of this. Of course, we respect the decision which was reached, but I want to get a briefing from the Seremban MP, before we make a decision on behalf of the party and Pakatan Harapan (PH), as this is something unprecedented,” Lim said.

He also proposed that today’s meeting be allowed to go on as usual, before PH makes a decision on the matter.

However, Takiyuddin, in response, then said that the 1pm time limit is only applicable for today, and another decision will be made for tomorrow and the following days.

Under Standing Order 12(1), each sitting of the Lower House shall begin at 10am and continue until 1pm and resume at 2.30pm and continue until 5.30pm or the earlier completion or deferment of business on the order paper.

However, a minister may without notice move at any time a motion to be decided without amendment or debate to vary the time of sitting of the House, and subject to the foregoing provisions, the presiding Speaker may at any time suspend the sitting for a stated time.

The Speaker may extend the time of sitting after 5.30pm, or after such time as may be determined by the Lower House for not more than 15 minutes, so as to complete the matter that ought to be completed on that day itself.

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