The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) is deeply concerned with the proposed declaration of an emergency by the government to contain the coronavirus pandemic, as reported by the media.
Suhakam is of the view that this may lead to further instability in the country and among its people, especially at such difficult times.
The proclamation of an emergency in this country has occurred in the past: emergency in 1964, emergency in Sarawak in 1966, emergency in 1969 and emergency in Kelantan in 1977. The previous proclamations of emergency resulted in the suspension of Parliament sittings, a worsening economy and violations of the people’s fundamental liberties under the Federal Constitution.
Under the Federal Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong can declare a state of emergency if he is satisfied there is a threat to national security, to the economy or to public order.
The present health and economic situation in the country relating to Covid-19 does not pose a threat to national security.
The proposed proclamation of an emergency under the pretext of containing Covid-19 is unconstitutional and simply unjustifiable especially since the public have largely complied with movement control orders and standard operating procedures implemented by the government.
The current measures undertaken by the government to prevent infections in the country and strict adherence to the standard operating procedures by everyone would be sufficient to contain the pandemic.
As stated in the National Palace’s media statement yesterday, Suhakam notes that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will consult the Malay rulers soon to discuss the proposed proclamation of emergency raised by the prime minister.
In this regard, Suhakam urges the government to reassess the necessity for an emergency declaration to handle the pandemic and calls on the government to uphold its duty and responsibility to respect the rule of law and protect the fundamental liberties of the people as guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.