Agong can declare emergency to postpone Gerik by-election to curb spread of Covid-19, say experts

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah speaks during the first-anniversary celebration of his ascension to Pahang’s throne on January 15, at Istana Negara in this file picture. ― Bernama pic
Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah speaks during the first-anniversary celebration of his ascension to Pahang’s throne on January 15, at Istana Negara in this file picture. ― Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 — As was done in the case of the Batu Sapi by-election in Sabah recently, the Gerik Parliamentary be-election in Perak can also be postponed through the declaration of a localised emergency to curb the spread of Covid-19, according to Constitutional experts.

Prof Dr Shamrahayu Abd Aziz of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) argues that according to Article 150 (2A) of the Constitution with regard to the proclamation of emergency, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah had the power to issue different proclamations for different reasons, or in different circumstances.

“However, the government or the authorities need to present a solid reason to make the declaration, such as preventing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and for the safety and health of the public,” she told Bernama.

She was commenting on the proposal by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) deputy president Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu, who is also Perak Menteri Besar, for the Gerik by-election to be postponed for safety purposes through an emergency declaration.

According to Ahmad Faizal, the declaration of an emergency in the area where an election is to be held is the best way to curb the Covid-19 epidemic.

Shamrahayu, who is also the chairholder of UiTM’s Institution of Malay Rulers Chair said Al-Sultan Abdullah would deliberate on the need for a declaration of emergency in Grik after listening to the government’s presentation on the matter.

“If the government can curb the spread of Covid-19 in the area, and ensure the practice of standard operating procedures (SOP) set by the Election Commission (EC) to enable the by-election to be held, then there is no need for a declaration of emergency to be presented to His Majesty,” she explained.

Meanwhile, Dr Muhammad Fathi Yusof, a law and Constitution research fellow from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) said the assessment on whether to postpone the Gerik by-election Parliamentary should be done by those handling the health issue, through discussions held with the State Assembly Speaker and EC.

He stressed that the important decision should not be determined by politicians, as it could be interpreted as a measure to avoid competition in the country’s political democracy.

“The question of postponing the by-election must consider between the importance of implementing the rights of the people of a democratic country and of safeguarding the health and lives of the people,” he said.

The Gerik Parliamentary seat fell vacant after incumbent Datuk Hasbullah Osman died in Raub, Pahang, on Nov 16, due to heart disease. — Bernama

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