Ten former Bar presidents: PN govt’s Emergency laws “dangerous precedent”, table in Parliament first now

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The current federal government’s successful push for a declaration of a nationwide Emergency on Malaysia and the subsequent Ordinance or law created under the Emergency with sweeping powers for the government without the necessary checks and balances is a “dangerous precedent”, ten former presidents of the Malaysian Bar said today.

In a statement today, the former leaders of the legal professional body that represents all lawyers in Peninsular Malaysia voiced their concern over the decision of the government’s decision to seek the declaration of an Emergency via a Proclamation by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

They argued that the conditions of a “grave emergency” with only the “most extreme” of circumstances — that would be required for such an Emergency declaration — were not present when the Emergency was called.

“In the final analysis, it is very troubling that the government has set a dangerous precedent for the use of Proclamations when the requisite conditions are not met under the Constitution.

“This is unacceptable in a country that is built on the bedrock of democratic principles and the Rule of Law. It is therefore imperative that both the Proclamation of Emergency and the Ordinance be laid before Parliament, as soon as possible,” they said.

Among other things, they also highlighted the recently-gazetted Emergency Ordinance which had suspended the sitting of Parliament, pointing out that the Federal Constitution actually requires both a proclamation of Emergency and Ordinances made under an Emergency to be tabled in Parliament to be scrutinised, and that the Parliament did continue to function in previous Emergencies in the country.

The statement was signed off by Datuk Param Cumaraswamy, Zainur Zakaria, Datuk Cyrus V Das, Datuk Mah Weng Kwai, Datuk Kuthubul Zaman, Datuk Yeo Yang Poh, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, Ragunath Kesavan, Christopher Leong and Steven Thiru. – MMO