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Malaysian youth to organise first-ever virtual parliament

The Malaysian Parliament has suspended meeting to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The Malaysian government has held fast onto its decision that its next parliament meeting will be held on 13 July 2020 and will take place over 15 days.

However, the youth of Malaysia has voiced concern over the decision especially as the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) has begun loosening its restrictions and many citizens are slowly becoming more used to what we now call ‘the new normal’ post-coronavirus pandemic.

Thus, Challenger Malaysia, Undi 18, and Liga Rakyat Demokratik are introducing Parlimen Digital. The youth-led initiative will be hosting a virtual parliamentary sitting on 4 and 5 July to “propose recommendations to address the economic and health crises in Malaysia,” particularly on the topic of policy recommendations regarding COVID-19.

It will be screened lived to showcase “the feasibility of a virtual parliamentary democracy.”

The most interesting part of the virtual parliament? Anyone and everyone has been invited to represent their constituency.

The only requirements are that participants must be 15 to 35 years old and that participants must be able to speak in Bahasa Malaysia as the meeting will be conducted in the national language.

The organizers stated in a Twitter post that young people have a voice and they must express their perspectives on the policies that need to be implemented to address the COVID-19 crisis and prevent the nation from entering a recession.

Those interested in participating in Parlimen Digital, are encouraged to register through a form by 23 June 2020.

This is not the first time that the implementation of an electronic parliamentary system has been brought up.

In an earlier article, a professional technologist said that setting one up could take up to two years and an investment of between RM2 million to RM5 million. This is because there is a risk that confidential data such as health and banking details of the ministers could be stolen.

Former Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker also supported efforts in creating an e-parliament but said it could take up to a year or more to be implemented as house rules have to be amended first.

He stated that, first, the speaker must make an appeal to the King to allow for parliamentary sessions to be done outside the Parliament building.

He also has to make a new decree to endorse this because when the building was built in 1959 and the King at the time had decreed that the house was henceforth where Parliament meetings would be held.

Another article from 13 May 2020 noted that there is no legal obstacle preventing Malaysia from conducting online parliamentary sessions in light of the Covid-19 crisis, say legal experts.

They believe that all it takes is an adjustment to the procedures on how to manage the proceedings before making the situation a reality.

A former federal counsel at the Attorney-General’s Chambers stated that physical Dewan Rakyat sittings in the House were a convention rather than a legal obligation.

The speaker only has to change the internal procedures on how to regulate the proceedings, which are within his jurisdiction.

A law professor from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia stated that he has absolute confidence that the speaker and his team can amend the procedures in no time at all provided he gets the green light from the government.

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