Officially in a state of emergency
The emergency (and how it affects us)
It’s a done deal. The Emergency Ordinance has now been gazetted, which, among others, gives le executive (essentially, PM Muhyiddin and friends) s̶u̶p̶e̶r̶ powers to battle the pandemic and more.
The Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 is a pretty long thingamabob, so here are our CliffsNotes:
- It’s to be applied retroactively from Jan 11;
- No expiry date, so it’s basically up to the King (although the initial Istana Negara announcement said till Aug 1, 2021);
- It grants the Agong powers to make any laws (called ordinances) he deems necessary;
- Also grants PM and his cabinet, as well as MBs, chief ministers and their excos, executive functions;
- Formation of an independent committee to advise the King. No mention if opposition MPs’ll be in it;
- It confers the Armed Forces powers equal to police;
- No elections or by-elections including GE15 and Sarawak polls (the Sarawak assembly ends in June);
- No Parliament and state assembly meetings until the King says so.
So, what does it mean for us poor plebs? Well, this article breaks it down into pretty simple terms for you.
Naturally, there was a rash of differing reactions from the opposition. DAP’s Uncle Lim Kit Siang’s called for a national conference for a collective strategy to battle Covid, sonny-boy Guan Eng said opposition parties would consider working with the independent committee, while everyone else wanted the emergency to revoked.
PM-forever-wannabe Anwar Ibrahim’s got some tricks up his sleeve. He’ll appeal to the King and press ahead with legal action against the gomen.
Over on the Perikatan Nasional side, Umno No. 2 Mohamad Hasan also questioned the big emergency in suspending Parliament. A limited “health emergency” would’ve been better, he said. Wise words, but bear in mind Umno’s on team “We Want Snap Polls“.
Sadly, a delay in Dewan Rakyat sitting (both the March and June seshes) will also delay important legislations like the Sexual Harassment Bill.
While gomen peeps have spoken in support of it, 10 ex-Malaysian Bar presidents have warned this sets dangerous precedents as it gives the gomen sweeping powers, and shouldn’t this all have been tabled in the Parli first?
Perhaps it’ll help to know we can sue the gomen is shit goes sideways and our rights violated.
Is the emergency warranted?
That’s the million-ringgit question.
The National Security Council’s put down the need for an emergency to inadequate laws – including the oft-touted Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) –available to combat Covid.
But are our laws all to blame? Are we conveniently forgetting poor decision making by the powers that be *cough the gomen cough*, such as the holding of Sabah polls and premature lifting interstate travel bans?
Even now, despite having ages to prepared for MCO 2.0, the gomen can’t seem to get things straight. Take, for instance, the simple matter on if KL parks can remain open during lockdown. DBKL had said no, only for FT Minister Annuar Musa to say yes a few days later after getting a green light from the NSC.
Why the flip-flop? Were the authorities not sure of the rationale for the closing parks in the first place in curbing the spread of the virus?
This has led opposition MPs Hannah Yeoh and Teresa Kok to ask just who’s calling the shots over MCO SOPs?! Seriously, we ask the same thing!
You know it’s bad for the gomen when one from their side, former glorious leader Najib Razak, also has questions. He pointed out the conflict between the gomen’s intentions to curb infections and its decision to allow such places like factories and construction sites (despite such locations being the largest contributors of cases), jewellers, Ikea and Victoria’s Secret to stay open in MCO areas? We gotta quote Bossku on this one: “Is luxury lingerie an essential service during MCO?”
Adding to the #kenotbrain file, police have said you can patronise non-essential businesses, like music shops, if you’re out shopping for essentials within a 10km radius of your home! Also perplexing is that student sitting for exams may return to campus and hostels without Covid swab tests unless they display symptoms? Erm, what about asymptomatic carriers?
We get it. The gomen is trying to find the balance between life and livelihood. But why, then, the need for an emergency and MCO when all you really need is better enforcement?
Another day, another damned record
Frighteningly, Saturday saw a new record in terms of daily Covid-19 infections, with 4,029 new cases.
In all, Friday to Sunday saw a total of 10,579 new cases and 23 deaths, bringing our total active cases to 37,782 and death toll to 601, with
What’s even more horrifying is that the number of ICU patients yesterday jumped to 240 from 205 the previous day, another record.
The good news is that registration for immunisation will be opened soon, though the first phase is reserved for frontliners. Malaysians in Singapore, however, are lucky as some of them are already being vaccinated.
Meanwhile, here are some of the other Covid-related news over the weekend:
- Malaysia’s highest-profile Covid death occurred over the weekend when former Lord President Salleh Abas passed away. The Tun will always be remembered for standing up for the judiciary amidst the 1988 constitutional crisis (no thanks to a certain other Tun) and being unceremoniously dumped for his troubles.
- Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has been criticised for tweets calling for everyone to just stay home during the MCO as people cited double standards for politicians and VIPs.
- Bukit Gasing assemblyman Rajiv Rishyakaran will be bringing the Rapid Test Kits-Antigen private Covid-19 tests back to the public on Jan 18. Subang Jaya rep Michelle Ng will follow suit.
- An open letter from a tired doctor from Sungai Buloh has drawn a response from Selangor Health director Dr Sha’ari Ngadimam, who assured his department cares deeply about the healthcare workers’ work environment, basic needs and health and safety.
It’s heartbreaking. Medical workers are claiming to be burnt out, with one doctor claiming he was even questioned by a supervisor for seeking medical leave and time off.
- PM Muhyiddin has agreed to set up a health and scientific advisory group after another open letter from a group of health experts, inviting them to join this advisory group.
- The Malaysian Medical Association has urged a probe into private laboratories offering Covid screenings after a case involving a family who never got a call from the Health Department after testing positive at a private lab.
This is really, really disturbing. A 16-year-old girl – a child! – detained at the Miri Central police station on suspicion of being involved in illegal gambling activities was raped by another underaged detainee who apparently managed to get a hold of the key to her cell.
Two cops have been suspended over the case.
Heads must roll! Top cop IGP Abdul Hamid Bador has called for all involved to be charged, but really, Kasthuri had a valid point when she questioned whether the police could ensure a proper investigation into their own. After all, we now have a significantly watered-down version of the long-sought-after Independent Police Complaints of Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), called the IPCC, and even that hasn’t been approved yet!
Here are some other bits of news that came out yesterday:
- Umno sec-gen Ahmad Maslan has apologised over his remark that only the highly educated or PhD holders understand the need for a snap general election.
- With Putrajaya MP Tengku Adnan Mansor facing criminal charges in court, Umno is eyeing several others to take his place come GE15, with Khairy Jamaluddin leading the list (You can read the news in English here).
- Stirring the pot, as usual, Dr Mahathir Mohamad has claimed DAP wanted Shafie Apdal to be the opposition’s PM candidate instead of Anwar Ibrahim.
- Flood evacuees in Taman Malihah, Kuching, were hit with a double whammy when their evacuation centre itself was inundated.
- Hidden camera footage inside a Top Glove factory has been screened on a Canadian TV report which said that it showed unsafe working and poor living conditions, described as “appalling”.
- Kelantan and three districts in Sarawak have been placed under MCO from Saturday.
“The greatest horror that can happen during a pandemic is when human rights, especially for children and women, migrants and refugees, the disabled, minority and the aged are unbelievably violated and when there is a lack of a reaction to it.”
- Kasthuri Patto-
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- Joe Biden’s expected to sign a series of executive orders once he assumes office as POTUS, rolling back the policies of his predecessor on things like the Covid-19 stimulus package, vaccines, climate change, Iran and immigration.
- Leading Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny was detained immediately upon his return to Russia, five months after being poisoned, allegedly by FSB agents.
- A powerful earthquake in Sulawesi measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale has killed dozens and injured hundreds.
- Long-time Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni has been declared the winner in his nation’s elections.
Opposition leader Bobi Wine declared his party would challenge the victory, even as Wine and wife remain under house arrest.
- Two female judges have been shot dead in Kabul as a wave of assassinations continued in Afghanistan.
- Grammy-winning music producer Phil Spector, serving a sentence for the 2003 murder of an actress, has died in prison of natural causes at the age of 80.