KOTA KINABALU, Jan 13 — Faced with a political ‘cliff-edge’, the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government should have negotiated with the Opposition instead of resorting to declaring a state of Emergency to avoid any election that could further endanger the people, said Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.
The Sabah Opposition leader said that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s move to advise the Agong to declare an Emergency appears to be politically motivated and the rationale was not acceptable.
“There are sufficient existing laws to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. If there is a need to amend the Federal Constitution to avoid the Sarawak election or any by-election during a pandemic, the Perikatan Nasional government should negotiate with the Opposition to reach a two-thirds majority to do so.”
“If there is a need to legislate measures for Covid-19 pandemic, the government should negotiate with the Opposition instead of declaring a state of Emergency,” he said in a statement here.
Shafie, whose Warisan Plus Opposition front was friendly with Pakatan Harapan (PH) and has good history with former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said leaders from both sides of Parliament would have agreed to a ceasefire and not call for a general election.
“The Emergency rule should be ended so that parliamentary democracy can be restored in the shortest possible time with a negotiated peace among political leaders to avoid a general election until the end of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Shafie, who is Semporna MP and whose Warisan party has eight MPs, giving them moderate sway, called upon the minority PN government to reset the button and “do the right thing” and build a united nation not based on any individual, party, race or religion.
He echoed his Opposition colleagues in saying that a state of Emergency was not a suitable option to address the spread of the coronavirus when there were sufficient laws to address it in the current movement control order (MCO).
“A state of Emergency which can lead to abuse of power is not necessary and not suitable as the current situation does not warrant it. The reasons that trigger an Emergency are when there is an existence or potential of grave and imminent threat/emergency to national security, national economic life and public order.
“The fact that the PN government proceeded to implement the MCO, CMCO and RMCO last year speaks volumes on the absence of any ‘grave’ and ‘imminent’ threat to the nation,” he said.
He added that counties such as Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Germany, Norway and Spain that implemented restrictions on population movement similar to Malaysia’s MCO have been successful in curbing the spread of Covid-19.
He said that under a state of Emergency, debates on policies and legislations affecting the nation will no longer be possible, rendering the legislative system redundant and give the government absolute power that can be used to abuse the Constitution.
“The proclamation of Emergency is an announcement to the whole world that Malaysia has an unstable government, and that foreign investors will have no incentive to invest and our economy will further suffer,” he said.
His statement comes two days after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s proclamation on a state of Emergency for the whole of Malaysia that will take effect until August 1, 2021.
Critics say that although necessary to avoid an election during the pandemic, the Emergency was primarily motivated by Muhyiddin’s desire to fend off a political coup by PN’s former ally Umno, whose leaders have been calling for a general election.