Declare health emergency instead to safeguard Malaysia’s democracy, says Umno’s Mohamad

by AZREEN HANI / pic by BERNAMA

IT IS more apt for the government to declare a nationwide state of emergency to manage the pandemic as the nation’s democratic process should be safeguarded, said Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan (picture).

“I believe it would be more appropriate for the government to instead declare a state of ‘health emergency’ while introducing a specific ordinance for such purpose.

“Only through reinforcement of the healthcare strategy can we improve our control over the pandemic,” Mohamad said in a statement yesterday.

“For example, by expediting the immunisation process and utilising the Movement Control Order. To paralyse the constitution, be it partially or fully, would never help our recovery from the pandemic,” he said.

He noted that Malaysia is currently in an unprecedented position that its history has ever seen.

“With worsening pandemic and declining economy, the country is put in a state of emergency where its constitution and Parliament are now rendered dysfunctional,” he added.

Last Tuesday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin assured the nation that the emergency powers declared by the King will be used only to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and that the civilian government will continue to function.

Muhyiddin addressed the nation just hours after the palace issued a statement that Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has declared a national state of emergency to be in effect until Aug 1 to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“Let me assure you that the civilian government will continue to function. The emergency proclaimed by the King is not a military coup, and curfew will not be enforced,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mohamad noted that the government’s decision in declaring a emergency is made with the intention of controlling the outbreak.

“Umno is fully supportive of the government’s effort in combating the outbreak, a stance that we would never compromise.

However, Umno is also firm on restoring democracy and the democratic functions of our constitution,” he added.

“Malaysia’s democracy must remain undefeated, be it by the pandemic or whatever challenges that may come forth to this country. It will also be a just country with its constitution as the highest law and beacon,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, the National Security Council (MKN) said the declaration of the Covid-19 emergency was necessary because the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) is no longer adequate to contain the worsening spread of the virus.

MKN said this is because virus had become widespread and not limited to certain localities.

The daily Covid-19 case figure breached the 4,000 mark on Saturday, hitting a record of 4,029 cases, bringing the cumulative total for positive cases in Malaysia to 155,095.

MKN, in its frequently-asked-questions (FAQ) infographics released yesterday, said the period of emergency consented to by the King would give space to the government to focus on the country’s economic recovery, apart from ensuring and preserving security and public order.

The emergency decree, according to MKN, is needed for the Covid-19 curve to be flattened faster and more effectively.

“This is because the government cannot afford any delay in making arrangements with the private sector to use its medical premises and resources like utilities and assets.

“Apart from this, enforcement of regulations to contain the spread of the pandemic can also be carried out faster without being hindered by bureaucracy and cumbersome regulations,” it said.

MKN said although Act 342 does provide specific powers to the authorities to secure cooperation from the private sector, the provisions are no longer adequate in the current circumstances.

Further information on the declaration of emergency is available on the FAQ infographics uploaded by the MKN on its official social media platform.