KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 10 — The government finally announced yesterday the members of the Special Independent Emergency Committee 2021 (SIEC) that will advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong when it would be feasible to lift the Emergency ahead of its scheduled end on August 1.
The members are an eclectic group spanning aspects of Malaysian life such as law, security, politics, healthcare, trade, and academia.
The committee also features several former senior government officials, ranging from former a Chief Justice to former state chief secretary and a former Inspector-General of Police.
The SIEC, which will operate independently, was set up under Section 2 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 and will advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the ongoing Emergency and when it should end.
Here, Malay Mail provides a brief overview of their respective backgrounds.
The former senior officials
1. Tun Arifin Zakaria
The former Chief Justice, who will turn 71 in October, will function as the SIEC president leading the committee. He also led a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) back in 2019 that was tasked to look into human trafficking activity detected in Wang Kelian, Perlis, following the discovery of mass graves and detention camps along the Malaysia-Thailand border. Arifin is also known for his part in controversial judgements that saw him uphold the Sedition Act 1948, and PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy conviction.
2. Tan Sri Samsudin Osman
The richly experienced 73-year-old formerly served as the Chief Secretary to the government from 2001 to 2006. Samsudin also served as secretary-general to the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry in 1994, and then in the Home Affairs Ministry in 1996. He was also the chairman of the Employee’s Provident Fund (EPF) Board and the EPF Investment Panel from 2007 to 2020. He currently sits as the non-independent non-executive chairman of Sime Darby Bhd, where he has been serving on the board since Dec 2008.
3. Tan Sri Norian Mai
He was the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) from January 1999 to November 2003, and is Malaysia’s sixth IGP. He was appointed the IGP after his predecessor Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Mohd Noor resigned following his involvement in the lockup abuse against Anwar in 1998. Norian was also the deputy to Arifin in the Wang Kelian RCI.
4. Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin
Zulkifli, now 62, served as the 20th Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) chief from June 2018 to January 2020. He also served as the Army chief and as vice-chancellor of Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia for five years. However his stint with the university was not one without controversy, with allegations of him aiding the cover-up of two cadets’ deaths, mismanagement within the institution, and abuses of power, but were never proven. An online petition was even initiated condemning his appointment as the MAF chief.
5. Prof Tan Sri Dr Mohd Taha Arif
Dr Mohd Taha was born in Sarawak and is recognised for his services in various divisions within the Health Ministry until he retired in 2005 from the post of director-general of Health following a decorated career in the public healthcare system. He was also in posts such as state Health director in Kelantan, Negri Sembilan and Sarawak. Dr Mohd Taha is currently the professor of public health medicine at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Malaysia Sarawak.
6. Tan Sri Dr Yahya Awang
With more than 30 years’ experience as a top cardiologist, the 70-year-old Dr Yahya has under his belt no less than 5,000 open heart surgeries, and trained more than 50 other cardiac surgeons over his career. He is credited with performing the first ever heart transplant in Malaysia back in December 1997, and was one of the pioneers behind the formation of Institut Jantung Negara (IJN)
7. Tan Sri Ter Leong Yap
The self-made entrepreneur is currently the chairman of property developers Sunsuria Berhad. Ter is also the president of National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia, and has held the position since 2016. He is also the head of other organisations such as being the president of The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia since 2015, and as president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kuala Lumpur & Selangor since 2012.
8. Tan Sri Dr R. Palan
Dr Palan is an entrepreneur, academic, and a product of the renowned Harvard Business School. He currently sits as the Pro-Chancellor of University of Cyberjaya, and is also the founder, chairman, and non-independent executive director of the SMRT Holdings Berhad investment holding company.
9. Datuk Salehuddin Saidin
The former deputy public prosecutor served within the government for 20-years, first as the federal counsel to the Ministry of Defence in 1987 for three years, then transitioning to the Attorney General’s Chambers. His final post within the AGC was as Head of Classified Cases/Public Interest Unit from August 2006 to October 2007, before left the public service and began his private practice. He now heads the Salehuddin Saidin and Associates legal firm. Salehuddin has been frequently featured on forums and television interviews discussing constitutional matters.
10. Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin
The Perlis Mufti is known for his more pragmatic views of the Islamic faith, and for his constant pressure towards lawmakers and politicians. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in March last year, Mohd Asri was known for coming down hard on Tabligh members, barring them from Friday prayers and urging them to get tested for the disease after a gathering sparked one of the largest infection clusters in Malaysia. Mohd Asri had controversial episodes of his own, especially when he was criticised for suggesting German fascist leader Adolf Hilter might have done the right thing when he committed genocide against the Jews.
11. Datu Dr Andrew Kiyu Dawi Usop
The public health professional has under his belt more than 40-years of experience within the healthcare sector, having served as the deputy director for Public Health in Sarawak and finally as Sarawak State Health Director until he retired in 2008. Dr Andrew is currently the Professor of Public Health in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in University Malaysia Sarawak, and also serves as a consultant epidemiologist to the Sarawak Health Department.
12. Tan Sri Sukarti Wakiman
Sukarti served as the Sabah state secretary for 11-years under both the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan from July 2007 until July 2018, after his tenure was extended for four-years in 2014 when he was supposed to retire. Sukiman served a cumulative total of 41-years in the state civil service, and was revered for his loyalty, respect, and impartiality towards ruling governments.
13. Tan Sri Noh Omar
The Tanjung Karang MP does not require much introduction; known as an Umno warlord and vocal character in Parliament, Noh is notorious for using vulgarities within the Dewan Rakyat and had once suggested that offences only become a crime if the perpetrator is caught, and is not a crime otherwise. Noh has served as a federal minister during the BN administration in three different portfolios, namely the Entrepreneur and Co-operative Development Ministry, the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry, and Urban Wellbeing, Housing, and Local Government Ministry. In June 2020, Noh was appointed MISC Bhd chairman, but famously vacated his post 17 days later following public outcry over his appointment.
14. Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim
The former minister of women, family, and community development has been an active politician for more than 30 years, winning parliamentary seats in her native state of Sarawak since the 1990s. She was made a full federal minister during the BN administration. Rohani is the Batang Lupar MP was most recently appointed special advisor to the Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg in June last year.
15. Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun
The Beaufort MP had been a member of Umno until the 2018 General Election. She later joined Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) in March 2019 as part of a group of eight lawmakers that defected to Bersatu from Umno. Currently she sits as the chair of the Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), an agency tasked with training Bumiputera individuals on the facets of commerce and industry.
16. Nik Muhammad Zawawi Nik Salleh
The PAS lawmaker recently made headlines when he repeatedly asserted that all religions regardless of creed actually forbade the consumption of alcohol, even Christianity, during a debate in Parliament. The Pasir Puteh MP went as far as saying his research showed that Jesus forbade alcohol consumption before the Bible was "manipulated", and that it was backed by both Muslim and Christian scholars. Nik Muhammad apologised for his remarks some three months later only after being ordered to do so Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun.
17. Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail
Saifuddin currently sits as the secretary-general for both his party PKR and the PH coalition. The Kulim-Bandar Baharu MP served as the minister of domestic trade and consumer affairs under the PH government before its collapse. More recently, Saifuddin had come out to defend a lawsuit filed by Opposition MPs against the prime minister, explaining the suit is aimed at determining if the clauses under the Emergency Ordinance which allows for the suspension of Parliament and state assemblies is lawful and in line with the Federal Constitution.
18. Anthony Loke Siew Foke
Loke, who is the Seremban MP, was the transport minister of the previous PH administration. He was regarded as one of the better performing ministers of PH’s Cabinet, and credited with several initiatives that boosted the usage of public transport. Loke is also the organising secretary of his party DAP, and has been touted as the next successor to lead his party.
19. Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad
Having served as PH’s Health Minister until the coalition’s collapse last year, Dr Dzulkefly was credited with initiating quick response plans to handle the Covid-19 outbreak during the pandemic’s infancy at the end of 2019. Following the collapse of PH, the Kuala Selangor MP was appointed as the chief of the Selangor Task Force for Covid-19 (STFC) by the state government to lead their crisis management efforts.