KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat reconvened yesterday for what is expected to be the shortest parliamentary meeting this calendar year, in anticipation of the general election.
The meeting will last until June 28 -- with only 12 days of business -- and it is not likely that there will a repeat of the "marathon" last meeting, when 15 bills were passed in the final two days.
With all the reform bills promised by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak having been passed during the last meeting, the only contentious bills that could be raised now would be to set up a media council and an alternative body to the Bar Council.
Both are still in the works and there are no given certainties that they would be presented for first reading at this meeting.
Expected for second reading, and passed later, are the amendments to the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) Act, which would greatly reduce the home minister's powers in determining which media is provided a printing licence, and to abolish the annual permit renewal for print publications.
Although the move was lauded as liberalising the industry, scepticism was raised on fears that a media council empowered to regulate the industry would curtail press freedom by including online media under its purview, as opposed to the absolute freedom currently granted for online media.
The proposal to set up an alternative body to the Bar Council came after the Bar's EGM on May 11 during which it denounced police brutality during the Bersih rally on April 28.
Several ministers, including Nazri and Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, had questioned the Bar's impartiality in tabling the EGM motion.
The alternative body, which requires a federal law amendment to be set up, would take in both practising and non--practising lawyers.
The current Dewan Rakyat meeting is expected to see little action, with many speculating it would only be used as a platform to dissolve Parliament and call for the general election.
Speculation on early elections was heightened when the last Parliament sitting ended at nearly 4am, the longest single--day sitting in the house's recent history.