The meetings on current state of affairs concerning Covid-19 and Emergency come ahead of a Special Meeting of Malay Rulers next week
by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
OPPOSITION leaders who met the King yesterday appealed that the State of Emergency be lifted when it runs out in July and that Parliament be re-convened so that the people’s grievances can be addressed democratically.
Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah met individually with several political party leaders at the Palace yesterday and is scheduled to meet more in the coming days.
The surprise meetings are said to be held so that the King can obtain views about the current state of affairs concerning the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the declaration of Emergency rule to combat it.
The meetings with party leaders come ahead of a Special Meeting of the Malay Rulers scheduled for Wednesday next week. A Palace spokesman said the special Rulers meeting would discuss efforts to contain Covid-19 and how it is implemented under the Emergency period.
Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president and leader of the ruling Perikatan Nasional coalition, was the first to arrive at Istana Negara, but a palace statement later said he was there for a routine pre-Cabinet audience with the King.
Sultan Abdullah met with Muhyiddin for an hour at 7am, followed by Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (picture).
Outside the palace, Anwar told reporters that he made an appeal for the Emergency not to be extended beyond July 31, when it expires, because it has a negative impact on the people’s welfare.
“All the measures that can be done (to contain the Covid-19 outbreak) do not need an Emergency,” he said.
The Port Dickson MP said the King listened to his views but said that, as King, he was bound by the Constitution to carry out his duties according to advice from the PM.
News that the King had summoned party leaders raised speculation that there would be a change in government, but Anwar said the matter was not discussed at his audience.
Anwar said he also raised matters on Parliament re-convening, but nothing on a new government formation was discussed.
Anwar’s appeal to the King comes amid talk that the government would seek to extend the Emergency period to the end of the year because the war on Covid has not been won.
“There was some thinking to extend the Emergency to year-end,” a political source said.
He said the meetings were to get input from all parties before the Rulers meeting next week.
The King also met DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng and Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu yesterday.
“Tuanku is our hope because there is no Parliament sitting for the people to air their problems,” Lim told reporters after his audience.
Mohamad said he expressed to the King the need to reopen Parliament despite the pandemic, citing the UK as an example.
Former PM and Pejuang chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is scheduled to have an audience with the King today.
Previously, the Langkawi MP had asked the King to intervene in how the country is handling Covid-19, which he said is not giving the people the desired results.
Dr Mahathir had appealed to the King to listen to the people’s grouses regarding the pandemic through a letter sent on May 31.
The leaders of Gabungan Parti Sarawak component parties are scheduled to have an audience with the King via video on Monday, according to a statement by Sarawak Chief Minister’s office yesterday.
Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Assoc Prof Dr Rusdi Omar viewed the Emergency should not be extended and Parliament to re-convene.
“At this point, the Emergency may have negative impacts on the economic growth, particularly the negative connotations it projects on foreign investors.
“The government and Opposition need to work together, not necessarily under the Emergency, through the Parliament. Matters on vaccine procurement are of paramount importance,” the political analyst told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia geostrategist Assoc Prof Dr Azmi Hassan said with or without the Emergency, it seemed to have no value-added effects on how the government handled the pandemic.
“Even without the Emergency, I think the government has all the tools and laws to handle the pandemic. With the Emergency, there is a negative perception that the government is trying to hold on to power without reconvening the Parliament,” Azmi told TMR.
He said the Parliament sitting, not that the Opposition wants to question the government’s legitimacy, but more importantly to contribute and acts as checks and balances on how the government functions, especially on issues related to the pandemic.
“We could have done better,” he said.