Outraged Malaysians slam ‘political’ call for emergency

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Irate Malaysians took to social media today to vent their anger and disbelief at the prime minister’s Muhyiddin Yassin’s shock announcement of a state of emergency, purportedly to bring down the soaring numbers of Covid-19 cases.

Many held the view it was a political move rather than a virus containment measure as other countries had managed to curb infections without having to resort to emergency rule.

Twitter user zarakahan cited New Zealand as an example of a country that had successfully beaten the coronavirus without the aid of emergency powers.

“The darurat is not because of Covid. It’s to hold on to power. Other countries have implemented measures against Covid (like NZ) without having to use emergency powers,” she said, calling the emergency by its Malay name.

Former president of the Malaysian Bar and human rights advocate Ambiga Sreenevasan was appalled at the double blow that the government has dealt the people in calling for an emergency right after reinstating the movement control order in six states.

Kamal Ariffin/TMI

“Look at how it was done. Lockdown. Then this. This is not how you treat the people,” the lawyer tweeted.

Daughter of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and activist Marina Mahathir posted that the emergency was result of Putrajaya’s failures.

“Failure to manage the pandemic, failure to govern, failure to care about the people,” she wrote on Twitter.

Others tweeted their concern over the suppression of democratic practices as parliament is suspended.

“Parliament suspended. With or without majority, PM can now enact any (new) laws without debate,” said majidahhashim.

Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim said the emergency will not only affect society, the economy and investor confidence, but has set a precedent for future leaders to resort to undemocratic means to stay in power.

“Whoever in power, now and the future, will know they have undemocratic options to stay in power & will not think twice to do it, some people will even be desensitised and accept these sort of abuses as norms,” Sim said.

Some Twitter users noted that the emergency order was issued just as Muhyiddin lost majority support in parliament.

JustinTWJ said it is clear Muhyiddin has lost support and has consequently made sure that a general election will not be held as a result.

“Basically, his whole speech confirmed that it’s just to stop elections from happening and to stop his government from collapsing because he (doesn’t) have the majority now.”

“He doesn’t have the majority support of MPs. He can’t stand UMNO pressuring for elections. He can’t risk a no-confidence vote in Parliament. He wants to stay in power. Booms. Darurat.  Parliament is suspended. It’s political.”

Muhyiddin announced a state of emergency this morning, less than a day after reinstating the movement control order (MCO) for big swathes of the country.

Eight states and territories – Penang, Selangor, Malacca, Johor, Sabah, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan go into lockdown for two weeks from tomorrow.

Also, for a fortnight starting tomorrow, Pahang, Perak, Negri Sembilan, Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan will be subject to a conditional MCO, and Perlis and Sarawak, to a recovery MCO.

Interstate travel is banned across the country and intrastate travel is prohibited in the states under the MCO.

The MCO allows only two people in one household to go out to buy essential items and residents are forbidden from travelling further than 10km from their homes.

Malaysia has logged daily infections numbering in the thousands in recent weeks, hitting a record 3,027 on January 7. The death toll is 555 as of yesterday. – TMI

Related reports:

Jan 12, Emergency highlights

Jan 12, PH accuses Muhyiddin of “hiding behind Covid-19 to save himself”