PM’s aide: Calls for establishment of all-powerful National Operations Council premature, would hamper fight against Covid-19

A general view of Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur October 25, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
A general view of Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur October 25, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 — Calls by various quarters for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to set up a body with absolute power such as the National Operations Council (NOC) are not suitable to be implemented at the moment, according to the prime minister's principal private secretary.

Datuk Dr Marzuki Mohamad said the proposal was a backward step which could impede the government's plans and the efforts of civil servants, frontliners, industry players and the people to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and bring the country out of the current health and economic crisis.

“The prime minister (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin), when announcing the implementation of Emergency 2021, has also stressed that the proclamation of Emergency by His Majesty does not mean the country has been placed under an administration with absolute authority like military rule.

“A civilian government is still functioning and the characteristics of this civilian government should be defended throughout the period of the Emergency,” he said in a video on the management of the Emergency which was uploaded on Facebook.

He said the situation in the country now is totally different from that in 1969 when an emergency was declared after racial riots broke out, resulting in a loss of lives.

Marzuki said Malaysia has a functioning Cabinet to deal with the health emergency, which is not a security emergency.

“The Cabinet meets every Wednesday to discuss not only Covid-19 but also the country’s administration, economic management, people’s welfare, finance, security, education, international relations and other matters concerning the country,” he said.

He added that the government is not only managing the pandemic but also the welfare and lives of the people by providing various types of assistance through the relevant ministries and agencies.

These include economic stimulus packages and financial aid, with the latest one being the Pemerkasa Plus package worth RM40 billion, which includes a RM5 billion fiscal injection.

“The delivery of the aid must be continued by the related ministries and agencies under this civilian administration without interruptions from any party which possesses absolute power,” he said.

Marzuki said the government also has specific mechanisms to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, including through the National Security Council Special Meeting on Covid-19 Management which convenes at least twice a week.

Besides that, the National Security Council Special Meeting on the Emergency meets at least once a week while there is the Special Committee for Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply, which is responsible for planning and implementing the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

“We really hope the situation will return to normal. Once almost all people in the country have been vaccinated for us to achieve herd immunity, expected to be before the end of this year, Insya Allah (God-willing) all economic and social sectors will reopen. We will then be better protected against the Covid-19 infection.

“At that time, I believe we will be seeing a more vibrant political and democratic process. We will then be able to hold not only Parliament sittings but also elections.

“So, for now we focus on efforts to overcome the Covid-19 problem. With the ongoing vaccination process and the implementation of the movement control order, I believe we need just a bit more time to get out of the crisis we are facing,” he added. — Bernama

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