Opposition labels PM’s Emergency announcement a political move that endangers democracy

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong proclaimed a state of Emergency in the country until August 1, or until the current wave of Covid-19 subsides earlier today. — Picture by Hari Anggara
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong proclaimed a state of Emergency in the country until August 1, or until the current wave of Covid-19 subsides earlier today. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 12 — Several political leaders have condemned the Perikatan Nasional government today for calling for a state of Emergency to deal with Covid-19, which will last until August 1 or earlier if the pandemic comes under control.

Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman urged for direct financial aid for the public, saying he believes the initial two-week movement control order (MCO) will likely be further extended until August following the Emergency declaration.

“The government should provide comprehensive moratorium protection to the people. Cash assistance should also be announced immediately and distributed at least by end of this month.

“There is no more reason to leave the people without economic protection by the government,” the Malaysia United Democratic Alliance (Muda) leader said in a statement.

Syed Saddiq also urged equity in having Opposition MPs as members of the independent special committee that would decide on when the Emergency should end.

Echoing his view was DAP’s Kuching MP Kelvin Yii, who said that the committee should have its powers extended to be able to counsel the federal government too, and should not be “flooded with political yes-men”.

“I have since beginning called for an expert Covid-19 Consultative taskforce consisting of specialist from both public and private sectors to formulate and guide the nation's strategy, just like in Singapore so that it is a ‘whole-of-society’ approach,” he said in a statement.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today said that Parliament and State Legislative Assembly sessions as well as elections will be suspended until further notice following the proclamation of Emergency earlier.

He also said that he has decided against holding a snap election as it is his duty to protect people’s lives and the well-being of the nation amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and promised that it would happen as soon as the situation improves.

Earlier today, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah proclaimed a state of Emergency in the country until August 1, or until the current wave of Covid-19 subsides.

An emergency committee will be formed consisting of government and Opposition MPs and relevant health experts to determine if the Emergency will be ended early.

Several others also said the proclamation is uncalled for and unnecessary to handle the pandemic, especially as it comes on the heels of yet another MCO in several affected states.

“The proclamation of emergency by Perikatan Nasional is proven to be purely political in nature. It is not for the public interest, but aiming to save Muhyiddin from losing power and indeed serves as a very dangerous precedent.

“The fact that Parliament will be suspended, but all power vested with the executive will open the door for abuse of power, corrupt practices and deprive the lawmakers the right to provide the check and balances badly needed against the government,” DAP deputy secretary-general Nga Kor Ming told Malay Mail.

“Our country is facing multiple crises now and our democracy is facing imminent danger. Proclamation of emergency is not the solution to problem but the beginning of a bigger problem,” he added.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng also stressed that performance of PN government led by Muhyiddin is unlikely to be improved due to the suspension of the Parliament and any abuse of power by the federal government will remain unchecked without parliamentary oversight.

“Will the performance of the PN government improve with an Emergency Proclamation? This is unlikely with the suspension of Parliament, when there are no longer any restraints against abuse of power, the upholding accountability and transparency without parliamentary oversight or any checks and balances provided by the Opposition,” he wrote in a statement.

Parti Amanah Negara communications director Khalid Samad also said that the suspension of the Parliament was due to the Perikatan Nasional government’s reluctance to be criticised.

“This is a clear evidence of failure to address not only the threat of Covid-19, but also the politics and economy of the country,” he posted on Twitter.


 

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