DAP lays out conditions for cooperation with PM Muhyiddin’s Emergency advisory panel

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng speaks during a press conference at Wisma DAP in George Town January 7, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng speaks during a press conference at Wisma DAP in George Town January 7, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 — DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said his party would consider working with the Independent Committee to advise the Yang Dipertuan Agong on Emergency matters if the Opposition were to be given equal weight in setting its direction.

This entails having more Opposition lawmakers and experts as its members and a council “generally more independent”, the former minister said as he urged Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to guarantee that any cooperation will be sincere and genuine.

“We will accept in good faith (should there be an invitation) but on the strict condition that our inclusion will not be used to rubber stamp any illegal or unconstitutional acts by Muhyiddin,” Lim told Malay Mail.

However, he cautioned Muhyiddin against exploiting the Opposition’s goodwill as a way to “legitimise” any unconstitutional decisions.

Pakatan Harapan has been critical of the decision to enforce Emergency rule, dismissing Muhyiddin’s justification to seek the Agong’s consent for the Proclamation of Emergency as a ploy to stay in power.

“We have always been willing to work together to fight Covid-19 but we don’t want it to be used to legitimise a power grab,” said Lim, MP for Bagan.

Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah, acting on the advice of the prime minister, on Monday agreed to proclaim an Emergency lasting until August 1.

Lim said PH leaders have been consistent in rejecting attempts to invoke an Emergency as this would concentrate all the country’s authority in the executive and allow the other arms of government to be overridden.

They argued that existing public health laws are sufficient to contain Covid-19 and alleged the Muhyiddin administration had been slow to respond accordingly. Many felt the government had ample time to direct resources into tracing, testing and treatment when the number of cases were kept low by the first round of lockdown

Covid-19 has killed over 500 people and infected more than 150,000 even as daily cases continue to surge, which Muhyiddin had cited to justify Emergency rule.

The Emergency is scheduled to end August 1 unless decided otherwise by an independent special committee consisting of government and Opposition MPs, and health experts.

No timeline has been given for the formation of the committee. Muhyiddin has also yet to outline what its full terms of references are. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said three members of the Opposition will sit in the panel.

Last night, Takiyuddin told RTM in an interview that none has been nominated from among the Opposition parties.

Lim said his party wants more clarity and details before deciding if it will extend cooperation.

“It must also get consensus from (other) Pakatan Harapan members,” the former minister said.

“But as far as DAP is concerned we are willing to cooperate, but as I said, on the condition that we will not be used to rubberstamp any unconstitutional acts,” he added.

The PH presidential council, comprising top leaders from PKR, DAP and Amanah, are scheduled to meet next week, according to Lim.

“This will be decided by PH then,” he said.

A coalition of 75 Malaysian civil society organisations (CSOs) on Thursday labelled the Emergency as an assault on Malaysian’s civil liberties, calling the decision detrimental to parliamentary democracy.

The group has launched an online drive to reject the proclamation starting with the hashtag #BantahDaruratMuhyiddin — Malay for “protest Muhyiddin’s emergency”.

Lim dismissed suggestions that agreeing to join the special Emergency panel would legitimise the Emergency Ordinance. Sitting in the committee provides the Opposition the opportunity to revoke Emergency rule, he stressed.

“We believe the prime minister has given the wrong advice, and we want to question the need to enforce all strict regulations,” the former minister said.

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