Despite the severe escalation of a public health crisis, and its corresponding damage to the economy, the promulgation of a state of Emergency nationwide has none the less caught the Nation by surprise.
With the state of Emergency in place, any concerns on political instability and the collapse of the Government during the pandemic is nullified. The same applies to concerns of snap elections being called during this period.
Whilst CENBET acknowledges that combating the pandemic is of absolute priority of the Nation, and no less than 70 countries in the world have declared a state of emergency in various forms, the necessity and or the extent of the Emergency have invited debates and differing views.
The Palace and the Prime Minister has assured the Nation that the raison d’etre for Emergency, and any resulting Ordinances, is for COVID-19 pandemic related matters only. The Civil Government and the Judiciary are operating as usual.
There is no real conflict between the state of Emergency and its ordinances with the normal functioning of civil government and parliamentary scrutiny. Government has been granted the additional emergency powers to combat the pandemic AND Parliament can continue to execute its role to promote and ensure transparency and accountability of the Government, without jeopardising efforts to combat COVID-19.
There is no necessity to suspend Parliament and state legislative assemblies. The August House should continue to debate and pass non-COVID-19 related bills, amendments to various laws and longer-term policies such as the 12th Malaysia Plan.
By Gan Ping Sieu, CENBET co-president