KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — Senior Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali today accused the Opposition of provoking political instability and even sowing hatred against the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government with what he termed their “outbursts” against the possibility of a state of emergency being declared to fight twin threats of Covid-19 and the economic slump.
The international trade and industry minister singled out Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, branding the PKR president “a power crazy individual driven by selfish and egotistical motives with a pathological sense of entitlement” for attempting to unseat Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin when health and economic conditions in the country were dire.
“In his relentless quest to become Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim has resorted to outright lies as well as subterfuge not only as against the nation but even as against His Majesty the YDPA,” Azmin said in a statement.
He made a dig at Anwar’s recent claim to have the majority support of lawmakers in Parliament that would be enough to trigger a government change.
He also hit out at the Opposition as a whole for their remarks likening Malaysia’s descent into dictatorship should a state of “economic emergency” be declared, saying it was “an act of utter recklessness and irresponsibility most unbecoming of Members of Parliament”.
“Rather than standing with the Government’s efforts at battling the pandemic and saving and revitalising the economy for the rakyat and the nation, Opposition leaders have again chosen instead to sow fear and resentment amongst the rakyat against the Government’s earnest efforts at securing public health and safety while ensuring economic recovery.
“Let us be clear. Our real enemy is Covid-19 and we must appreciate the sacrifices and selfless efforts of our frontliners who have toiled day and night, and still continue to do so, to fight this battle against this deadly virus,” he said.
He urged all political leaders to set aside partisanship and unite behind the Muhyiddin administration to fight the pandemic for the nation’s health, prosperity and wellbeing.
He said Muhyiddin and the National Security Council has been “working tirelessly” on a daily basis for the past 24 days to deal with the new challenges of curbing the coronavirus, now into its third wave.
“Together with our health experts, armed forces and internal security personnel as well as the economic advisors, the Prime Minister has been providing decisive leadership while actively deliberating on not just short term contingency measures but mid to long term plans to deal with the crisis holistically,” Azmin said.
He said the government needed to take “preemptive measures” and deal with border control to protect territorial security to effectively rein in the virus outbreaks, especially in Sabah, which has borne the worst of the infections and deaths to date.
Azmin said the government needed more power “to execute swift action against all threats including illegal immigrants with high risk of transmitting Covid-19 or other infectious diseases” to flatten the curve with minimal .
Rumours have been spreading on Malaysia’s social media since yesterday that the government is planning to declare a state of emergency following a lengthy meeting in Putrajaya involving top government officials, followed by another long audience with the King in his Pahang palace.
Istana Negara later issued a statement saying Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah will consult the other Malay Rulers about suggestions from Cabinet without indicating what they were about and calling for Malaysians to remain calm and not panic.
Muhyiddin has kept silence since then. However, several other ministers have alluded to the speculated emergency, earning brickbats from Opposition lawmakers including those from the ruling coalition and civil society.
News organisations cited several anonymous sources claiming knowledge of the confidential discussion said several suggestions were discussed for the government to gain emergency powers, some even called it an “economic emergency”, to fight Covid-19 and the current economic distress.