Opposition mulls other avenues during emergency

The Parliament and state legislatives will not be allowed to assemble during state of emergency


THE Opposition has to find other avenues and media to air their grievances and concerns on how the country is run, now that the space for discussion seems to be limited within the current state of emergency.

PKR communications director Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil (picture) said despite the challenges, especially since the Dewan Rakyat session is halted until Aug 1, the Opposition will continue to express their opinion and views to ensure the checks and balances remain in place.

The Emergency Ordinance 2021 was gazetted on Jan 14, three days after the emergency proclamation made by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah on Jan 11.

According to the ordinance, the Parliament and state legislative assemblies will not be allowed to assemble, until such a time as decided by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

In his special address following the King proclamation, Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the suspension of Parliament and elections during the nationwide state of emergency that is to last until Aug 1.

The Dewan Rakyat was scheduled to meet for the first time this year from March 8 to April 8.

Due to this limitation, Ahmad Fahmi said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) MPs, comprising DAP, PKR and Parti Amanah Negara, will continue to serve their role as the check and balance components by using other mediums to discuss the government’s decision.

“It is important to note that when we were sworn in as an MP, we promised that we will serve our constituents as the people’s representative.

“Additionally, we also swore to uphold the Federal Constitution, and the platform is the Parliament,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) last Thursday.

PH is the largest component in the Opposition bloc with 92 seats.

Last Friday, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim wrote to all MPs to send a memorandum to Sultan Abdullah, appealing to the King to allow the Parliament to convene by the end of the month to discuss, among others, if the state of emergency is necessary.

In the letter, Anwar suggested that all MPs should table an appeal immediately, requesting the endorsement and wisdom of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to withdraw the emergency proclamation, and subsequently a decree for the Parliament session to be held before Jan 31 to debate issues on the emergency, Covid-19 and the economic crisis.

Anwar is of the view that measures, already in place, were adequate to address Covid-19 pandemic and a state of emergency is not required.

He stated that the current economic crisis that resulted from rising unemployment and poverty is the pressing issue.

The PH presidential council had earlier objected to the reasoning given by Muhyiddin for the emergency proclamation.

While such a move may give ample time for the government to focus on resolving issues relating to the Covid-19 pandemic, constitutional lawyer GK Ganesan said the state of emergency is not healthy for a democratic country.

He said, while the reason for the emergency to be exercised is still vague, it will also close the door for the check and balance process by the elected representatives in the Dewan Rakyat.

“It also sets a bad precedent for the future of democracy. Every time a sitting PM has doubtful parliamentary support, will he overcome his duty to the law, avoid his constitutional imperative, by calling for an Article 150 Emergency?” Ganesan said.

He also raised the concern that such a move could refrain foreigners from investing in Malaysia.

“Which investor would agree to take the risk of dumping billions of US dollars in a country that has little regard for the true spirit of the constitution? And consistently departs from the constitution to hold on to power?

The country had gone through four states of emergency after its formation in 1963 — two nationwide and two state-specific emergencies in Sarawak three years later and Kelantan in 1977, as well as the earlier Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960 to fight the communists’ insurgency.