KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 — Parti Pejuang Tanah Air chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today questioned whether the enhanced powers given to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin under the Emergency ordinance could really contain the Covid-19 outbreak in the country as so claimed.
In a blog posting today, Dr Mahathir reiterated his stance that the Emergency is simply a move by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration to stay in power.
“The excuse for this seizure of power is said to be the massive increase in the Covid-19 pandemic.
“What is there that the prime minister with his absolute power can do to solve this health crisis? One has to remember that it was his decision to seize power in Sabah that was followed with the four-digit increase in the number of new cases. Before that, the new cases had dwindled to single digits.
“The best brains in the world are finding it difficult to stem the numbers of new cases. Can the prime minister with his power to jail people for up to 10 years and impose a fine of RM5 million reduce the number of cases?” said Dr Mahathir in his blog today.
“The problems caused by the pandemic are very many and do not lead to easy solutions. Can the enhanced power of the prime minister tackle these problems?
“What kind of advice can he give to the King that will reduce the numbers of those getting infected, those having to be hospitalised, those who will die,” added Dr Mahathir.
Claiming such a measure has given “tremendous” power to the PN administration, Dr Mahathir lamented that the rule of law has been “abolished” as Parliament sittings, used as a means of check and balance against the government, are suspended.
“But the declaration of Emergency has given the government tremendous powers.
“Everything that is done is in the name of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. They cannot be questioned. Nor can they be brought before Parliament as all sittings have been cancelled.
“Effectively, the rule of law has been abolished. We are assured that the intention is good. But when absolute authority is given, breaches and abuses will happen,” he said.
In the same post, Dr Mahathir also reiterated his stance that the Emergency proclamation is unnecessary as Malaysians have generally obeyed directives from the government.
“My view is that Emergency powers are not necessary in dealing with the pandemic. The government has ample power and Malaysians have obeyed whatever orders or directives issued by the government in dealing with Covid-19.
“They raise no objection. We are not like liberal western countries where the people openly disobeyed government directives claiming that their rights and freedoms have been ignored,’’ he said.
In a previous radio interview, Dr Mahathir likened Muhyiddin to a dictator for resorting to a state of Emergency.