Amid swirling rumours of ‘emergency’ to tackle Covid-19, Opposition leaders decry ‘overkill’

Yiswaree Palansamy
·4-min read
Opposition lawmakers have branded Putrajaya's seeming favour of implementing emergency laws to fight the Covid-19 outbreak an overkill. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Opposition lawmakers have branded Putrajaya's seeming favour of implementing emergency laws to fight the Covid-19 outbreak an overkill. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 23 — Several Opposition leaders have lashed out against the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government following reports that the Cabinet was in favour of implementing emergency laws to fight the Covid-19 outbreak.

Calling the move an overkill, they also reminded Putrajaya that the country already has sufficient laws to deal with the pandemic, in addition to a need for a public health-focused approach.

"We need a strategic public health response to the third wave of Covid-19 and effective communication. Not a 'legislative-political intervention' where Putrajaya usurps power of opposition MPs to check and balance, and legitimate dissent!

“A huge admission of failure!" former health minister and Kuala Selangor MP Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad posted on Twitter.

Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh also said that the move, if true, would send a wrong message to the global community.

"Overkill considering we still have many non-red zones in Malaysia.

"Sends a wrong message about Malaysia to the rest of the world, the economy will take a longer time to recover if this is true," Yeoh told Malay Mail when contacted.

Her view was echoed by former minister and Bakri MP Yeo Bee Yin, who said on Twitter: “Declaring emergency will not bring stability to build business confidence to revive our wounded economy.

“Declaring emergency is not necessary to fight current public health crisis as we already have Act 342,” she added, referring to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.

Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah also demanded members of the government to clarify use of emergency laws.

“Be clear when you throw around words like darurat and ‘emergency’. Public’s trust deficit is increasing - Don't bungle up when you have all the resources to do better!" she posted on Twitter, tagging Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin.

Maria also asked if this means that Muhyiddin would approve the Budget 2021 scheduled to be tabled on November 6, without the due parliamentary process.

"Would PM and Putrajaya use unconstitutional powers?" she asked.

Other responses include:

As of press time, no official confirmation on the matter has been released by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), with various news reports quoting anonymous sources on the purported decision

Muhyiddin is understood to be seeking an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to be conferred special emergency powers to deal with the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speculation had been rife since early this morning that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government may declare a state of emergency as Malaysia struggles to contain the spike in Covid-19 infections that has also hurt the economy.

It is unclear what the emergency powers being sought are at the moment as the breadth and scope under a state of emergency are far ranging.

Among them include the suspension of Parliament and elections, which provides for a layer of accountability from decision makers to elected representatives.

The Cabinet meeting in Putrajaya this morning was attended by several other government officials including Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador and Armed Forces Chief General Tan Sri Affendi Buang. The latter two are also part of the National Security Council (NSC).

In a state of emergency, matters are decided largely by the prime minister on the advice of the NSC. However, this will depend on the powers being sought.

Some news agencies have suggested the King could take charge of government and act on the advice of an emergency Cabinet, which could be the present line-up or a new one altogether.

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