Emergency no reason to suspend elections since they’ve been done before, says Aziz Bari

Perak Opposition Leader Abdul Aziz Bari said a proclamation of Emergency does not mean that elections cannot be held as they have historically been done before. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Perak Opposition Leader Abdul Aziz Bari said a proclamation of Emergency does not mean that elections cannot be held as they have historically been done before. — Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 ― A proclamation of Emergency does not mean that elections cannot be held as they have historically been done before, Perak Opposition Leader Abdul Aziz Bari reportedly said last night.

The constitutional expert-turned-politician said that Malaya had then held its first and second general elections while in a state of Emergency in 1955 and subsequently in 1959, even though an Emergency was then in effect between 1948 and 1960.

“Technically, an emergency, under Article 150, gives the government the power to carry out a lot of things, like amending laws without going through Parliament or the government,” the DAP assemblyman said during a Facebook live session.

“A state of Emergency is not meant for suspending elections. I am unsure why there is such an understanding now.

“Malaysians should not forget its history. It is not a strong argument, do not think that an emergency can solve everything,” he added.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that Parliament and State Legislative Assembly sessions as well as elections will be suspended until further notice, after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong declared the Emergency until August 1.

The Tebing Tinggi state assemblyman said that the Agong should also reconsider the proclamation, which he said will adversely affect the country and instead question the legitimacy of the current government and whether it holds the majority in Dewan Rakyat.

He said the Emergency declared yesterday gives Muhyiddin absolute powers without limits, to the extent of suspending the Constitution, despite never having proven his majority in Parliament.

“The government will be able to do anything and there is also no check and balance during a state of emergency. Furthermore it cannot be challenged in court,” he said.

“What becomes a problem is that the government can overrule any restrictions in the Constitution and that is what is worrying. It is not about military power, or public order.

“During an emergency, the power of the government is too absolute and there is nothing to keep it in line. Anything can be decreed by the ruling party and cannot be challenged,” he added.

To a question from an audience, Abdul Aziz said that the declaration cannot be challenged in court and only the King can retract the proclamation.

 “Maybe the only thing is the people can send a petition to the royals asking for a solution and the rulers can decide. They should step up during such uncertain times,” he said.

Yesterday, PKR’s Selayang MP William Leong said he and a group of concerned lawyers and citizens were exploring avenues to legally dispute the proclamation of Emergency issued.

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