It would require a good stretch of imagination to wrap your head around what Pas president Hadi Awang recently said of people who opposed the declaration of emergency in the country.
Without batting a spiritual eyelid, the prime minister’s special envoy to West Asia dropped a bombshell on a scale only known to and appreciated by his close party followers.
Writing in his party organ Harakah Daily, he lambasted opponents of the emergency opponents for being – lo and behold – worse than suicide bombers! Strong words and severe accusation coming from the Pas strongman equating peace-loving people who oppose the emergency declaration to bloodthirsty terrorists. This is because, he said, the opponents didn’t care about the people whose lives had been adversely affected by the Covid pandemic.
The number of people who had died in the pandemic, he pointed out, was far more than the hapless victims of suicide bombers.
Perhaps Hadi has the confidence to make that equation as he is after all an envoy whose portfolio covers the entire Arab world and who would know the Arab terrain like the back of his wrinkled hand – where suicide bombers lurk and operate.
But his crass demonisation – although some cynics might find it comical – is calculated to put those opponents of the emergency in a bad light. It is the kind of hyperbolic labelling that makes Hadi look more like a desperado struggling to justify the emergency declaration as a supposedly effective tool to stem the tide of the menacing pandemic. In short, he has gone over the top.
Hadi’s statement emerged in the wake of a concerted effort by opposition MPs, through a committee, to end the emergency declaration, to appeal to the king to restore democracy.
We can only hope and pray that Hadi would cease to dabble in such warped logic as he might inadvertently find himself to be the “darling” of caricaturists and satirists.
This is especially so when critics and cynics are witnessing an upsurge of Covid infections and fatalities under the emergency – a situation that runs counter to the government’s longstanding argument that the declaration would help reduce the rate of infections.
Opponents of the emergency are still struggling to find the connection between the purported attempt to curb the pandemic and the suspension of Parliament and state assemblies – the very democratic institutions that serve as crucial checks and balances.
Critics have asked, how would the suspension of Parliament make effective the efforts to fight Covid when the august House would have been a crucial platform to discuss and debate strategies to combat the menace more holistically and efficiently?
Equally important, Parliament is the place to hold the government accountable for taxpayers’ money supposedly spent on endeavours to fight the pandemic and for ordinances created that bypass the prying eyes of the legislature.
As it is, a political cartoon has already gone viral on social media, depicting Parliament as an abandoned and dilapidated building covered with crawling leaves and its grounds littered with bushes. In another cartoon, the building is caricatured as flats for rent.
With the justification for the emergency declaration becoming increasingly questionable, to cast its opponents as equivalent to heartless terrorists, as envoy Hadi did, borders on mischief. – The Malaysian Insight