By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Apr 29: It is compulsory for all state elected representatives (ADUNs) to attend the upcoming one-day Sarawak State Assembly (DUN) despite the threat of Covid-19 as the constitution states that failure to attend the assembly for consecutive six months entails automatic vacation of seats.
Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei said such would be the case for all 82 ADUNS except for those who have been served with quarantine orders and those applying for leave of absence.
“Unless we are served with quarantine orders in which case there is a compulsory quarantine, whether at home or quarantine centre, we are then exempted from attending the meeting.
“The implication is that, if we are not exempted from attending, or there is no application for leave of absence, we will all have to attend (despite Covid-19).
“Under the Constitution, if we are consecutively absent from the Dewan sitting for six months, we will have to vacate our seats. We will be disqualified,” Wong told DayakDaily.
By the same token, the failure to hold a sitting for consecutive six months also means automatic dissolution of the State Assembly. Wong thus concluded that the upcoming one-day DUN sitting is held just for the purpose of meeting constitutional requirement.
“The one-day DUN sitting is just to meet the constitutional requirement, to make sure that the Dewan will not be dissolved automatically. The State Assembly has to sit not beyond six months according to the constitution,” said Wong.
The upcoming DUN sitting has been slated for May 11 after three postponements due to the implementation of movement control order (MCO) and its extensions.
The first phase of MCO was from Mar 18 to 31. It was extended to April 14, which was later extended to Apr 28 and finally, May 12. Due to the extension of MCO, the one-day DUN sitting date which was initially set on Apr 14, was postponed to Apr 16, then Apr 21 and finally May 11.
On the question of whether one day was enough to settle business of the state, Wong said it was definitely not enough but it is the best way out under the present circumstance of facing the grave threat of Covid-19 pandemic.
“For crucial time like this, that (one-day DUN sitting) is the best way. If we were to sit for eight days, all ADUNs will be exposed to the risk of contracting the pandemic because we will all be sitting next to each other closely,” said Wong
Wong believed the upcoming DUN sitting may be quite a crowded affair as there are in total 82 ADUNs apart from DUN secretariat and staff as well as the attendance of heads of department or their staff.
“I am not sure how the DUN secretariat is going to arrange the sitting but for me, the regulation of one meter social distancing will have to be observed. The DUN secretariat will need to deal with that,” said Wong.—DayakDaily