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CONVENE STATE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY BEFORE AUG 1 TO AVOID AUTOMATIC DISSOLUTION - UPKO


Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau

13 July 2021


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah should seek the convening of the Sabah State Legislative Assembly before the Emergency ends on Aug 1 to avoid automatic dissolution, said United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko).


Its president Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau in a statement today said the last assembly was adjourned last year on Dec 23.


"It has passed the six-month interval between one legislative session and another on June 23, 2021.


"The Emergency currently halts the legislative clock and avoids automatic dissolution but the clock will resume after August 2, 2021," he said.


By convening the sitting after August 1, Madius asserted that the State Government risks exposing the state to another snap election in a year after the one last September.


"If anyone successfully seeks a court declaration that the sitting has stood automatically dissolved on Aug 2, Sabahans would be exposed to a super-spreader event when the Delta variant runs wild globally.


"Alternatively, Sabah would be put under another Emergency which would hold back its return to normalcy," he added.


The MP for Tuaran asserted that the sitting can be reconvened for even as a day and that a few important decisions can be made such as a motion calling for the setting up of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) on Federalism and Decentralisation in Dewan Rakyat.


He also mentioned an amendment of the assembly’s Standing Orders to enable the assembly and its committees to meet online or in a hybrid mode such that the legislative businesses need not be suspended should the pandemic deepen again.


The passing of any other motion or ordinance was also mentioned, ready to empower the State Government and People of Sabah on public health, intellectual property rights such as trademarks.


Madius also called upon all Sabah parties and elected representatives, working together with their peers in Sarawak and the Malayan States where relevant, to jointly demand several steps in decentralisation.


"By next full parliamentary meeting, amend the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution to move ‘Medicine and Heath’ from the Federal List (Item 14) to the Concurrent List alongside ‘Public Health, Sanitation and the Prevention of Diseases (Item 7) so that the State Governments have bigger say in the interrelated aspects to formulate more effective responses to a future medical emergency.


"The plights in hospitals in Selangor is a frightening warning to Sabah of the Federal Government’s failure in providing adequate support. All States must come together to demand decentralisation of medicine and health beginning with the amendment of the Ninth Schedule.


"By the next feasible State Legislative Assembly meeting: enact a Public Health Ordinance for Sabah as per the existing provision of Item 7 'Public Health, Sanitation and the Prevention of Diseases' on the Concurrent List.


"The Sabah State Government must stand firm on its concurrent constitutional power on prevention of diseases so that the Federal authorities realise that the State cannot be ignored or commanded, but must be heard."


During the duration of the 16th Sabah State Legislative Assembly, he said Sabah must be decentralised to create elected Divisional Governments, equivalent to Malayan states.


"The State Government can assign this ground-breaking re-organisation of Sabah to be a region on par with Malaya to our visionary Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffery Kittingan, who was the first to advocate the restoration of Divisions/Residencies as a level of administration," he noted.


Madius also reiterated the call for Confidence and Supply Agreements to be reached at both the Dewan Rakyat and Sabah state legislative assembly so that policy decisions may be made with cross-party consultation to reduce blind spots and public backlashes, and that difficult policy can be made with all parties taking ownership.


"It is also important to allow the Parliament and state legislative sitting to run full term with a pre-agreed date instead of rushing to the polls with the attainment of herd mentality.


"If the election date is tied to the success in pandemic containment, then as the success gets closer, both state ministers will have greater incentives to deviate from the ministerial responsibilities to prepare for their electoral battles.


"There is no reason why we cannot allow both the Parliament and the SLA to complete their terms for the remaining two and four years respectively," he stressed.