Emergency, by its very nature, would create a bad impression, irrespective of how noble the government’s intention is to have it in the first place.
For sure, it manages to accumulate all the negative repercussions. It scares and bewilders everybody, especially current and future investors. In the Malaysian context, it denotes the suspension of the Constitution and, by extension, the rule of law.
Covid-19 has been here for some time now and the government has been introducing some measures such as the movement control order, the enhanced movement control order and even a total lockdown.
Partial emergencies were also implemented in some places with the sole aim of containing the spread of this virus. And nobody objected to such measures taking place.
To their credit, Malaysians are generally law-abiding citizens. Yes, they may dislike the present government or the way it handles the pandemic, yet they dutifully comply and obey it.
Ironically, more often than not, the rules or standard operating procedures introduced by the government have been flouted by its own ministers rather than by ordinary citizens. Worse, the law was sometimes discriminately applied, protecting the haves and punishing the have-nots.
It goes without saying that the pandemic has caused tremendous pressure on ordinary people. The devastating impacts substantially come from the worsening economy.
Covid-19 has hit the economy badly, affecting all sectors – government, private enterprises and households.
With this emergency and its nightmarish ordinance, foreign direct investments would be scarce, thus jeopardising income and economic growth.
So, any attempt to justify the declaration of the emergency under the pretext of preserving economic life due to the existence of the so-called “grave danger” of Covid-19 simply defies logic. The very existence of this mind-boggling emergency would certainly hit all sectors. Thus the raison d’etre of the emergency on the grounds of tackling the economy is, with due respect, unacceptable and unthinkable.
Some people have been trying to drive home the message that anybody who disagrees with the present emergency ought to be labelled as a traitor. The fact that one can be easily accused of being a traitor reflects the unpleasant and scary outlook of the emergency.
It reflects how simple it is for the rule of law to be easily trampled on under the pretext of emergency.
Lest we forget, Malaysia practises constitutional supremacy. It simply means nobody is above the law. Hence the issue of being called a traitor should not have been mooted by anyone, as the Constitution itself jealously guarantees the fundamental right to freedom of speech.
Criticising the proclamation of emergency is part and parcel of such freedom. Thus, this right, duly enshrined in our Constitution, ought to be duly respected.
Disagreeing with the emergency should not, at all costs, be equated with being disrespectful to the monarchy. Far from it. It merely, with the greatest respect, seeks to softly remind everyone that ours is a constitutional monarchy.
After all, the genesis of emergency derived, not from our king, but from the prime minister and his cabinet. They called the shots. The entire episode of the emergency, with due respect, generated from their ill-advice.
Whilst the proclamation of the emergency by our king seems to be protected under the Constitution, no provision in the apex law, however, bars anyone from questioning the advice coming from the prime minister and his cabinet.
It is not only a right to point out the deficiency of reasons justifying the emergency; it is a solemn duty. In my view, this is the true meaning of patriotism!
We may be aware that a special ordinance has been created out of the present emergency. It is known as the Emergency Ordinance (Essential Powers) 2021. Like it or not, this ordinance, in my view, would successfully generate unnecessary fear, hence is not good for the country, especially at this critical juncture.
The ordinance contains a plethora of frightening provisions. By virtue of Section 14 and 15 respectively, it also seeks to suspend Parliament and state legislatures.
Under Section 18 of the ordinance, it attempts to replace the Constitution as our supreme law, thus having the chilling effect of altering the basic structure of the highest law of the land.
Under Article 150 (3) of our apex law, this very ordinance must be laid down before both houses – the Lower House as well as the Upper House – failing which the very validity of both the ordinance and the emergency would be called into question.
The issue now is how is this ordinance supposed to be laid down before Parliament when the ordinance itself seeks to bar Parliament from performing its constitutional function?
Alas, the highest law of the land mandates the government to do the same. Hence, the latter has no option. With its razor-thin majority, having a parliamentary sitting is something that it tries its very best to dispense with, at all costs. The parliamentary sitting may cause grave danger to the present government.
Was that the very reason which duly triggered the current emergency?
Mohamed Hanipa Maidin is the Sepang MP.