Dr M: Opposition seeks end of Emergency amid rising public anger

Ex-PM believes the ongoing Emergency is not being used for the public’s benefit

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

OPPOSITION leaders have requested to seek an audience with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdulllah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah to present their petition to put an end to the ongoing Emergency.

The online petition, signed by almost 40,000 people to date, was submitted by the Committee to End Emergency group, chaired by Shah Alam lawmaker Khalid Abdul Samad (left).

Also present at the packed press conference outside the Istana Negara yesterday was former Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (right), who said the request for the audience is also to rectify the ongoing Emergency, which he believes is not being used for the public’s benefit.

Dr Mahathir said the Perikatan Nasional government, led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, is misusing the King’s name for the Emergency power — a power that can be used without going through the Parliament.

To an extent, Dr Mahathir said, this has resulted in Malays becoming impatient with the current situation and could lead them to misdirected anger towards the ruler.

“All these acts (under the Emergency) were made under the name of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. That is why the people are now feeling uneasy with this situation.

“The Malays do not against the rulers. But now, we have to address this to the palace representative, that the Malays are also angry towards the Malay rulers. This anger can be seen in social media,” Dr Mahathir, who is also the Parti Pejuang Tanah Air chairman, told the press yesterday.

“It is very unusual for the Malays to go against their rulers, but it is quite clear that a large number of Malays are angry as they are suffering because of this darurat (Emergency). I think the government did not inform the Agong about the feelings of the Malays,” he added.

The Langkawi MP explained that this is due to the fact that the ordinance or orders gazetted during the Emergency period will be endorsed in the name of the King.

“So, anybody who criticises this will be considered disobeying or going against the King. So, I think it is important to convey the message to the ruler, especially the Agong in particular, or they would do something that will cause the anger of the people,” said Dr Mahathir.

On Jan 12, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong agreed to the proclamation of Emergency proposed by Muhyiddin, stating it was important to manage the Covid-19 crisis, amid claims that the ruling coalition was about to collapse as some Umno MPs were ready to leave the pact.

It was Muhyiddin’s second request to invoke the Emergency power, after the King dismissed his proposal in October 2020.

The PM maintained that the Emergency will only be used to manage the Covid-19 crisis, like the use of private hospitals resources to support the shortage at the public health sector.

He also reinforced the Movement Control Order to curb the virus spread.

However, in addressing the proclamation, Muhyiddin said the Parliament will not convene until Aug 1, which raised objections from the Opposition MPs, due to lack of check and balance processes.

Furthermore, after the stabilisation of Covid-19 cases since last month and almost all sectors were allowed to reopen, including schools, the Opposition questioned why the Parliament could not be convened.

In March, a new law was gazetted which will temporarily allow the Finance Ministry to approve additional spending of the federal government’s funds beyond the initial Budget 2021 without going through the usual route of seeking Parliament’s approval, during the Emergency.

It led to further uproar among the MPs, as well as the public.

Khalid said the committee will return with stronger proof to the palace to justify the move, should the group not get any answer from the King for the audience to be held.

He said the Emergency is proven not helping to fight the crisis, but will only cause bad impact to the economy, while recent data showed an uptrend of Covid-19 daily cases.

Dr Mahathir and Khalid were among several MPs who went into the palace, while other representatives were waiting outside at the main entrance, including from Pejuang, Parti Amanah Nasional, DAP, PKR and yet to registered Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) led by former minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, however, was not present. PKR information chief and Lembah Pantai MP Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil said Anwar fully supported the move and looked forward to the audience with the King.

“Anwar could not attend today as he is in Port Dickson due to some rescheduling of events and I believe DAP secretary general is also in Penang, but rest assured that they do support the move,” he told the press yesterday.

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