Govt: Emergency Ordinances revoked, no voting necessary

Opposition MPs demand an explanation why revocation was not announced nor gazetted, and question whether the King’s consent had been obtained

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by BERNAMA

THE government announced yesterday that it has revoked all six laws that it introduced under the Emergency order that was declared to combat Covid-19.

The announcement by Law Minister Datuk Seri Takiyudin Hassan was made even as MPs clamoured for a debate and vote on the lifting of the Emergency order that was declared in January.

Takiyuddin said all six Emergency Ordinances (EOs) that were introduced under Article 150 (3) of the Federal Constitution were revoked at a Cabinet meeting on July 21 in answer to demands that Parliament annul the Emergency proclamation.

He also said the government will not advise the King to extend that Emergency when it lapses on Aug 1.

Under the Constitution, the King acts on the advice of the sitting prime minister (PM) on such matters.

Opposition MPs demanded the government to explain why any revocation of the Emergency period was not announced nor gazetted, and questioned whether the consent of the King had been obtained.

The announcement by Takiyuddin also headed off any voting in the House, and that was clearly the motive, they said.

MPs said the lifting of the Emergency in secret meant that any actions taken under the EOs after July 21 were also null.

Former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told a press conference later that the government choosing to announce the lifting of the Emergency at a time when new infections at more than 17,000 cases was higher than when the Emergency was declared demonstrated that it was a political move to shore up the present government rather than as a way to handle Covid-19.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the announcement to lift the Emergency makes it look like the decision was made in night market style and an insult to the Malay Rulers.

PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who opened yesterday’s proceedings outlining the government’s plans to fight Covid-19, was not available to rebut the revelations and had instead delegated the customary duty to his finance minister — which was deemed by some lawmakers as an insult to the institution of Parliament.

Observers questioned the legality of lifting the Emergency by the Cabinet when it should follow procedures under the Constitution.

“This cannot be taken lightly because it could have a far-reaching repercussion. Was the King informed and consented to the decision? I think the revocation of the EOs must be properly done the same way the Emergency period came about, which was through the King or the Parliament.

“They cannot treat this matter according to their whims and fancies. This has been done overboard,” a senior fellow at the National Council of Professors, Dr Jeniri Amir, told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

With the government’s action, he said the people could not avoid from seeing the move as a tactic to prevent any voting in the Parliament that could ultimately prove that the Muhyiddin and his administration has lost the majority support.

“I think we have big questions here and why did this thing happen in such a ‘secret’ manner?”

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia senior lecturer (political study) Dr Mazlan Ali said the move created confusion to all stakeholders on why the Emergency powers had been rescinded earlier than Aug 1.

“I am not sure if it was a tactic, but lawmakers are shocked. This creates quite a negative view of the government. Many did not see it coming,” Mazlan told TMR.

Meanwhile, Umno information chief Shahril Sufian Hamdan said the government must explain why the revocation of the six EOs was not announced when it happened.

“For five days, the rakyat were not told of the laws and systems of the country. What about the legitimacy of legal actions taken such as compounds, fines and other administrative matters that were done over the past five days where the assumption was that the EOs were still in effect?”

In a statement yesterday, he asked the government to explain and also queried: “Is this a way to avoid debate?”

In January, Muhyiddin assured the nation that the Emergency powers declared by the King would be used only to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and that the civilian government will continue to function.

That was when the daily Covid-19 cases were in the range of 3,000 cases.

But almost eight months have passed by and the daily cases have surged, not declined, to as high as 17,045 cases.

The government has laid out a National Recovery Plan. It will be forming a National Recovery Council (NRC) to execute the country’s exit plan from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Parti Pejuang Tanah Air’s Dr Mahathir said the government’s version of the NRC is still a political entity comprising politicians, instead of an independent body that would tackle the crisis brought on by the pandemic.