KOTA KINABALU, Jan 12 — Calling an Emergency during the pandemic was a move to ensure government machinery could carry out its duties and at the same time force a political truce so that leaders put the people first, said Sabah government leaders today.
Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan said that the move was necessary in order to stabilise the federal government under such precarious circumstances.
“With all the politicking at this time, it is necessary to stabilise the situation given the rising Covid situation,” said the Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku president.
Kitingan, who himself contracted Covid-19 and is currently hospitalised here, said that the pandemic was a real problem that needed the full attention of the country’s leaders.
The state agriculture and fisheries minister also said that the Emergency would at least keep politicking at bay and give some respite to the government.
“They are always threatening to leave the government, threatening the situation. Every day it’s like that, how do we serve the people and take care of the priorities?” he said when contacted by Malay Mail.
Kitingan agreed that the power tussle at the national level needed to be resolved soon, and said that the prime minister has already committed to it when the pandemic was over.
“I, for one, agree that we should have an election to solve everything. But we cannot have it now until things are under control. In August, we’ll see what happens,” he said, adding that the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) state government was not facing the same divisive problems.
State Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia deputy chairman Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said that it was a good decision considering that the country’s healthcare was at breaking point.
“Taking into consideration the dire situation that we are in, in battling the pandemic menace, the prime minister probably has no choice. With the Emergency proclamation, the whole machinery of the government can now be utilised to fight the menace,” he said.
He said that with the Emergency in place, government leaders can now focus on fighting the virus instead of spending and wasting so much time battling their political foes.
“In fact, I sincerely hope leaders from both sides of the political divide will use this enforced political truce to find common ground to work together in the future for the betterment of this country. So much is at stake, so little time to get it done. Our country doesn’t have the luxury of time to wait and move ahead like some of our neighbours,” he said.
Similarly, Sabah Umno chairman Datuk Bung Moktar Radin, who is also state deputy chairman, supported the move, agreeing that at the end of the day, it puts the people’s interest first.
“For me, as long as it is good for the people, we will follow and support. What’s more is that it came from the Agong, the most respected figure in Malaysia. So for me, I don’t want to say much, as long as it’s good for the people we will support it,” he said.
Bung admitted that the Emergency’s duration until August puts two constituencies in Sabah at a disadvantage as it had no elected representative.
“It’s unfortunate, but the health and safety of the people come first. I hope the state or federal government will consider how to serve those two constituencies without their representatives while we wait for the by-election or GE15 to be called,” he said.
The Batu Sapi parliamentary constituency and Bugaya state constituency are currently without elected representatives following their deaths: Datuk Liew Vui Keong on October 2 and Datin Manis Muka on November 17 respectively.
By-elections were postponed by way of a state of Emergency.
Today, Muhyiddin said that he requested a state of Emergency for the whole country that will essentially put off any parliamentary sessions and elections, but was by no means under military rule.
He said that elections will be held as soon as the pandemic is over and it is safe to do so.