Dr Mahathir: Emergency secured illegally

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The current state of emergency not about fighting Covid-19 at all.

Former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said the state of emergency was about politics and a weak government wanting to stay in power.

Writing in a blog post titled “Rule of Law”, he said the declaration of emergency effective January 11 until August 1 at the latest, did not follow the law on how emergencies should be declared.

Hari Anggara

“The declaration had to be laid before Parliament. This was not done. Therefore, the declaration is illegal,” he said.

Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s status at the time when he sought the approval of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for the emergency declaration was also in doubt, Dr Mahathir added.

“His claim to be the Prime Minister of Malaysia was in doubt,” the Pejuang chief and former Pakatan Harapan chairman said, referring to Muhyiddin’s slim majority in Parliament.

“But the government doesn’t care about its status,” he wrote.

Now, the people are paying the price for Perikatan Nasional’s desire to stay in power using the state of emergency, the nonagenarian, two-time prime minister added.

He said the government wasn’t even “functioning properly” under the emergency it called for purportedly to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Let us be honest. This declaration of a state of emergency is not about fighting Covid-19. Not at all.

“It is about politics. It is about a weak government wanting to stay in power.

“For the people, the price to pay is horrendous. They lose their freedom of speech and their right to change the government. Many live in fear of being called up for questioning, for detention and harassment.

“In the meantime, the economy is shrinking as the government grapples with the constraints on normal economic activities.

“The government is not even functioning properly as inexperienced ministers are not able to deal with the political, economic, social and health problems. Wither the rule of law,” Dr Mahathir said.

The Perikatan Nasional government had on Jan 12 announced that the country is in a state of emergency, in view of the growing number of Covid-19 cases.

The declaration of emergency allows Muhyiddin to suspend Parliament and delay the Sarawak state election, where the term of its state assembly will automatically expire in June, until later in the year.

According to Dr Mahathir, while the prime minister and his cabinet are exercising emergency powers that are stipulated under the Federal Constitution, emergency ordinances passed since the declaration had superseded existing laws, including the constitution.

This includes protection on Muhyiddin and the government against any legal action, including suits and prosecution.

“The country is now ruled by decree. There is no longer any democracy. The voice of the people in a functioning democracy is via Parliament. But it is not open. The only description we can make of this government is that it is a dictatorship,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also claimed that business had been politicised, such as when contracts issued by the Pakatan Harapan government were revised and given to those who supported the current government.

“Approvals for projects are only for those which belong to government supporters,” he said, adding that business players had complained of corruption and of being asked for upfront payments in order to receive project approval.

Dr Mahathir did not name any specific cases or individuals in his post.

He said with Muhyiddin refusing to allow Parliament to sit during the emergency, even when the king had decreed that it could be allowed to do so, the only way out for the people is a general election.

But he warned that Muhyiddin’s government could delay calling for an election “even beyond the five-year term, (and) the government can remain in power”.

Parliament’s current five-year term expires in 2023.

Earlier, Dr Mahathir had joined members from the Committee for Ending the Emergency Declaration to seek an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

The delegation included the committee’s chairman Khalid Samad from Parti Amanah Negara, his party president Mohamad Sabu, Parti Pejuang Tanah Air president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, DAP’s deputy secretary-general Teresa Kok, and PKR’s vice-president Tian Chua was only allowed to meet Senior Private Secretary to His Majesty, Col (Rtd) Datuk Nazim Mohd Alim.

Other leaders included Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi, DAP’s Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh and Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng, Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah, and Malaysia United Democratic Alliance’s (Muda) vice-presidents Dr Thanussha Francis Xavier and Mutalib Uthman.

PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil later clarified that PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng could not attend the delivery of a memorandum because of prior engagements.

He said both Anwar and Lim are in their respective constituencies but will be present if the Yang di-Pertuan Agong assents to an audience with Opposition party leaders.

“A number of the party leaders and party secretary-generals are unable to be here. But I believe should we get a date to have an audience with the King, most definitely they will be there,” he told reporters in front of Istana Negara.