KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has branded the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration a dictatorship that is ruled by decree, adding on to past criticism against its decision to suspend Parliament and enforce Emergency rule.
The two-time prime minister said democracy cannot function without Parliament and the rule of law would “wither”.
Opposition lawmakers have alleged Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin used Emergency rule in a desperate bid to stay in power, and not as a means to rein in the coronavirus pandemic.
“The country is now ruled by decree. There is no longer any democracy,” the Langkawi MP wrote in his latest blog entry.
“The voice of the people in a functioning democracy is via Parliament. But it is not open. The only description we can make of this Government is that it is a dictatorship.”
Muhyiddin’s detractors have been trying to exert pressure and force the government to convene Parliament but with little effect.
A prime minister is accorded almost absolute discretionary power to suspend or convene Parliament by the Emergency Ordinances, and cannot be compelled by any law to do otherwise.
But critics argued Muhyiddin’s decision to bypass Parliament to declare an Emergency was illegal.
“The declaration itself did not follow the law on the declaration of Emergency,” Dr Mahathir said.
“The declaration had to be laid before Parliament. This was not done. Therefore the declaration is illegal.”
The former prime minister also noted Muhyiddin’s refusal to heed the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s decree that Parliament may sit during the Emergency.
He said Muhyiddin’s actions all point to him exercising all the powers granted under the Ordinances, but claimed the prime minister had made it appear like the Agong had total control, likely in a bid to deflect backlash.
“It is obvious that the Prime Minister is acting based on the provision in the Ordinance that he and his Cabinet continues to exercise the powers under the constitution,” Dr Mahathir wrote.
“But any action or laws that the Government passes which are in conflict or inconsistent with existing laws, the provision of the ordinance shall prevail and supersede,” he added.
Muhyiddin’s actions also seemingly suggest that provisions of the Ordinance have superseded even the Constitution. This, Dr Mahathir wrote, strengthens claims that the Emergency powers were invoked to keep a weak government in office.
“Let us be honest. This declaration of a state of Emergency is not about fighting Covid-19. Not at all,” he said.
“It is about politics. It is about a weak Government wanting to stay in power. For the people the price to pay is horrendous.”