Emergency laws will encroach into state matters - Sabah Law Society

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Emergency laws will encroach into state matters - Sabah Law Society
Emergency laws will encroach into state matters - Sabah Law Society

The Sabah Law Society has raised concerns over any planned emergency provisions that would affect state matters without going through the state assembly.

Its chief Roger Chin said this was as a declared state of emergency would permit Putrajaya to issue directives and enact laws that encroach on state matters.

"An emergency declaration would mean that the federal government can expand its authority to any matter, even including those within the jurisdiction of state governments, according to Article 150(4) of the Federal Constitution.

"Such laws would affect states as these would not have been passed by the State Legislative Assembly and members duly elected by the people of the state," Chin said in a statement.

He further noted of the far-reaching consequences of an emergency declaration, particularly the loss of oversight to laws passed without any parliamentary debate as a check and balance mechanism.

"In addition, such laws need not be in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Constitution.

"For these very reasons, two pillars of government, namely the judiciary and Parliament, would be rendered impotent and the democratic structure would be compromised with a concentration of power in the hands of the executive," he said.

Even as Sabah continues to battle with the rising number of Covid-19 cases, Chin said there are already sufficient laws and measures in place to deal with the public health crisis without need to resort to an emergency declaration.

"The Covid-19 pandemic does not represent an emergency as envisaged by Article 150 of the Federal Constitution.

"None of the special powers as stated in Article 150 are required in order to deal with the situation," he added.

"The SLS maintains its faith in the health authorities and medical personnel who are working tirelessly to safeguard the health of all Malaysians," said Chin, who appealed to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah not to declare a state of emergency.

Existing laws sufficient

Similarly, the Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) said existing laws on health safety and movement of people within districts, states and across countries are sufficient at present time.

The group of former human rights commissioners also said fundamental liberties, democracy and Parliament should not be suspended in order to address the increase in Covid-19 cases.

"In fact, the opposite must take place so that there is greater transparency of data, enhanced multi-stakeholder partnership and action to instil greater cooperation of all stakeholders in addressing not just a health pandemic which has caused great disruptions to the livelihood of ordinary people and now leading to a political crisis of legitimacy.

"What we are facing is a health issue and not a security issue and hence the emergency sought by the prime minister under the name of Covid-19 is unwarranted," Proham said in a statement.

So far details surrounding a proposal presented by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to the Agong during his audience yesterday has remained unclear.

Istana Negara in a statement this morning said the king will discuss with the other rulers on the suggestions he received from the cabinet yesterday.

The statement, however, did not give any details on the suggestions or if a proclamation of emergency was part of the suggestions as heavily speculated.