What is the Special Independent Committee for if it’s Cabinet’s duty to advise Agong on Emergency? PKR sec-gen asks

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PKR secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail speaks to reporters during a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Petaling Jaya February 24, 2020. ― Picture by Hari Anggara
PKR secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail speaks to reporters during a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Petaling Jaya February 24, 2020. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 — PKR secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail today demanded an explanation from de facto law minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan, following his remark that it is the Cabinet that would advise the King on the extension of the Emergency.

In a statement today, Saifuddin, who is also a member of the bipartisan committee which was formed to advise the Agong, questioned if the group is still relevant, following Takiyuddin’s statement.

Saifuddin said the committee has a very clear and specific responsibility which is to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the continued existence of an Emergency or its termination, pointing out that until now, this committee still exists and functions to carry out its duties with the ultimate goal of presenting a report to Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Takiyuddin’s remarks came following speculation that the Emergency would be extended. The Emergency was proclaimed on January 11 and is supposed to expire on August 1.

“It is noted that under the Federal Constitution the role or duty of advising the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is allocated to the Cabinet in accordance with Article 40 (1) of the Federal Constitution that is, His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong acts on advice. On Jan 12, 2021 the Prime Minister announced a state of Emergency being enforced in our country.

“This is after the Yang di-Pertuan agreed with the advice of the Cabinet delivered by the Prime Minister, and in accordance with Clause (1) of Article 150 of the Federal Constitution, a Proclamation of Emergency was declared. Subsequently on Jan 14, 2021 the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 was made and came into force.

“Based on Section 2 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021, the establishment of an Independent Emergency Special Committee is provided. With this establishment the government has made an exception for this Committee to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on emergencies as compared to under normal circumstances, wherein this advising role is the role of the Cabinet,” he said.

Saifuddin lamented that given such circumstances, Takiyuddin’s statement is “very confusing and raises several questions”.

He questioned if the functions of the Special Independent Emergency Committee to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the date the Emergency had been terminated, resumed or taken over by the Cabinet.

Saifuddin also asked Takiyuddin to clarify if this means that even under the Emergency Ordinance 2021, the power of the Cabinet to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong according to the Federal Constitution is applicable, including in matters of ending or extending the Emergency period.

“If that is true, what is the need for this Independent Special Independent Committee to be created? As a member of the Special Independent Committee appointed by His Royal Highness the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, I would like to request Minister Takiyuddin Hasan to come forward and provide an explanation. This will help me to make a decision regarding my position and role in this committee,” the Kulim Bandar Baharu MP said.

Takiyuddin, after his initial statement, had denied that the government was ‘shifting goalposts’ to influence when the Emergency should come to an end.

However, he said the Cabinet is “correcting rules of the game to aid the referee in making a fair decision.”

He was responding to Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, who had also questioned the need for the bipartisan committee to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the Emergency Ordinance that is currently in place after Takiyuddin remarked that it is the Cabinet that would advise the King on the extension to the Emergency situation.

Takiyuddin had in a statement yesterday said that any decision on the duration of the nationwide Emergency will be based on the Cabinet’s advice to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

He said the Emergency was proclaimed in accordance with the Federal Constitution for public health and safety to halt the spread of Covid-19.

He gave an assurance that the government will continue its focused approach to more effectively fight the spread of the viral disease.

He added that any decision regarding the Emergency will continue to be based on the law and will take into account all the latest circumstances surrounding public safety and the country’s socio-economic situation.

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