Pejuang MPs will walk out of Dewan Rakyat if special sitting next week is just a briefing, says Dr Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR — Lawmakers from Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) will walk out of the Dewan Rakyat sitting on July 26 if it turns out to be nothing more than a briefing by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.

Its chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said his party would like to give the government the benefit of the doubt first and see what topics are brought to the table.

“We have decided to attend, at least at the beginning. If we find that it’s just a briefing, we may decide to go out.

“Are they deciding to talk about the people or legitimising what they have done? Like the Darurat, it was not legitimate as the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara were not consulted,” he said in a news conference after Pejuang’s central leadership meeting today.

Dr Mahathir was referring to the Emergency by its Malay name.

He insisted that the Emergency — declared in January and which is set to expire on August 1 — is not legitimate because the due process of law was not followed before its proclamation.

The Dewan Rakyat is scheduled to sit from next Monday until July 29 and will continue on August 2 while the Dewan Negara will sit from August 3 to 5.

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun has said this first sitting for the year is not the regular session but a “special sitting”. He added that the regular session will convene only in September.

The Prime Minister’s Office said in a July 5 statement that the special sitting is intended to provide explanations to MPs about the National Recovery Plan and to amend all the necessary laws and rules to enable hybrid Parliament sittings, and with the proclamations of Emergency and Emergency ordinances to be laid before Parliament.

Dr Mahathir also took another swipe at the PN government, claiming the National Rehabilitation Council headed by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to be a “copycat” of Pejuang’s prior suggestion to deal with Malaysia’s Covid-19 crisis.

He accused Muhyiddin of trying to claim credit and demanded that his original idea for the council to be reinstated and composed of people who are not politicians.

“I still think that if this council that I am proposing is held, composed of people who are not politicians, we can find a way to reduce the number of daily cases.

“Their imitation did not bring any results,” Dr Mahathir said.

He said Malaysia’s Covid-19 surge is developing and needs expert advice to effectively address the heart of the crisis but that the government was not focused on this.

Dr Mahathir’s son and Pejuang president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir also criticised the council and predicted that it was headed for failure.

Dr Mahathir mooted a national recovery council consisting of experts on health, virus, economy, psychiatry, sociology and others who can actually reduce the infection rates of Covid-19 and aid those who are impacted by it.

He suggested it be given power to deal with the impact of the pandemic and even offered to quit Pejuang if he was appointed to sit on it.

Last week, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz announced the creation of the National Rehabilitation Council, of which he was appointed its coordinating minister.

Tengku Zafrul said the council is tasked to ensure the smooth implementation of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) and strengthen the government’s strategy in fighting the spread of Covid-19.

Tengku Zafrul said the NRP would be tabled in Parliament on July 26. – MALAY MAIL

Dr M: National Recovery Council a ‘more politicised’ version of body mooted by Pejuang

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government’s National Recovery Council is a more politicised version of the similarly-named independent council he proposed previously, as the current council is headed by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

As such, Mahathir believes it will not be effective at handling the Covid-19 crisis.

“This copies from Pejuang’s suggestion to form a National Recovery Council independent of the government.

“The problem with Muhyiddin is that he only thinks about politics, but not about the rakyat’s suffering,” Mahathir said in an online press conference today.

Previously, Mahathir had said he believes the solution to the problem is a National Recovery Council, which Pejuang had submitted a motion for in the upcoming Parliament session, though it was rejected.

Earlier, the government had announced the National Recovery Plan (NRP) which will be headed by a special committee. But on July 16, it was announced that a National Recovery Council, chaired by Muhyiddin, will replace the special committee.

Mahathir said today that Muhyiddin has not been able to show any success in terms of handling the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, even after the former met with Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz to discuss potential solutions.

“They came to see me to ask for my ideas about how to handle this and I told them everything, I didn’t hold back on anything because I think this is good for the people, but we can see the government has no capacity to implement the ideas we have given to them.

“I told them what needs to be done, but they are not being done properly, or not done at all,” he said.

Some solutions he had suggested in the meeting with Zafrul included utilising hotel kitchens as public kitchens to prepare food for the needy, setting up more army field hospitals equipped with oxygen and working with the private hospitals to ease the burden on the healthcare system.

He said that he gave these suggestions back when the daily new Covid-19 cases ranged around 6,000 cases a day. Now that the figure has climbed as high as up to 13,000 cases a day, Mahathir said it will be much more difficult to reduce the number of cases now.

That is why, he said, he believes there is still a need for an independent body consisting of professionals from relevant backgrounds, including in the fields of science, economics and sociology.

Now, he said, the country is in dire straits with sky-high daily Covid-19 cases and deaths while the people are struggling both economically and mentally, some to the point of suicide.

“All these things need to be attended to, but the government is more interested in how to retain its position as government, particularly with a prime minister who wants to remain the prime minister,” he said.

Pejuang is ready and wants to help the government tackle the Covid-19 crisis, he said, but they want to be free of government bureaucracy and politics.

Mahathir said he is even willing to step down as Pejuang chairperson if he was asked to join an independent body to resolve the pandemic, as he does not want to bring politics into this matter.

“But this government is only interested in ‘oh we should get the credit’ because this is good for their politics.

“We may fail… but we think we have ideas that can help reduce the number of new cases every day.

“In fact, the government themselves think we have ideas, which is why they sent the finance minister to ask me what they can do to deal with this pandemic,” he said. MKINI