Emergency declaration may be ‘final nail in the coffin’ for Malaysia’s economy, says Tengku Razaleigh

Yiswaree Palansamy
·3-min read
Tengku Razaleigh HamzahThe government backbencher said if the rumoured plan comes into force, 'business confidence would be at ground zero'. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Tengku Razaleigh HamzahThe government backbencher said if the rumoured plan comes into force, 'business confidence would be at ground zero'. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — Umno lawmaker Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah today warned that the country’s already battered economy will be wrecked if the government declares an emergency to deal with the Covid-19 epidemic as widely speculated since yesterday.

The government backbencher said if the rumoured plan comes into force, “business confidence would be at ground zero”.

He said that while the government had some form of determination to contain the pandemic at the start of the outbreak, over time, such enthusiasm has been waning.

“If the prime minister were to get his way in imposing the proposed state of emergency, as an economist myself and the former Minister of Finance and former Minister of International Trade & Industry (and former Chairman of World Bank & IMF), I can say with some certainty that it may be the ‘final nail in the coffin’ of our already battered economy. Local and foreign investors would shun us completely,” the Gua Musang MP said in a statement.

He noted that more businesses both big and small were closing daily, leaving many people jobless.

“Over time and lately, there seems to be a lack of a coordinated and integrated approach in dealing with the crisis in what appears to be a lack of clear and exemplary leadership by the government. There are also double standards on the enforcement and penalty meted out, one for the ordinary rakyat and another for government ministers and well connected people,” Tengku Razaleigh, popularly known as Ku Li, wrote.

He also criticised the government on what he labelled as a “narrow, short-sighted and irresponsible approach of not supporting any genuine private sector initiatives” when it comes to procuring the Covid-19 vaccine.

Tengku Razaleigh said that while he is not questioning the right of any prime minister to seek a declaration for a state of emergency with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, he doubts the basis, rationale, timing and the real motive for such a move.

He said this was especially when a public healthcare crisis “that is severely impacting the livelihood and economy of our people” is looming, which he felt may not have been managed well by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, in the best interest of the people.

“The public and politicians across the divide, except for a few recalcitrants, are cooperating with the government on the measures and SOPs. Our Parliamentary system of democracy is working well and there are no mass rebellion or riots on our streets. I cannot see any honest basis for such a request while I can only suspect non-honourable motives behind it,” he said, expressing worry on the far-reaching powers which prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would wield, should his rumoured bid come into plan.

Speculations are rife that the PN government is seeking to declare a state of emergency as Malaysia struggles to contain the spike in Covid-19 infection that has also hurt the economy.

Reports have so far suggested that Putrajaya is seeking a dubious so-called state of “partial emergency”, also dubbed as “economic, health, or political emergency”.

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.

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