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What does the 'state of emergency' mean for Malaysia, according to Prime Minister Muhyiddin

What does the 'state of emergency' mean for Malaysia, according to Prime Minister Muhyiddin

What does this mean?

Text: Rachel Au


Image: Bernama
Image: The Star
Image: Unsplash

Following Jan 11's announcement of a second MCO for six states in Malaysia, the Agong has agreed to declare 'darurat' (a state of emergency) nationwide until Aug 1. Here's what PM Muhyiddin announced during his address

Update: 12 January 2021, 11.42am

In his address today regarding the state of emergency, PM Muhyiddin said:

  • "The civilian government will continue to function. The emergency is not a military coup and curfew will not be enforced."
  • The Cabinet, state executive councils and government services will continue to function as usual, as reported by The Straits Times
  • In addition, "the emergency order will also mean the King can make the necessary decrees to tackle the pandemic, including ordering private healthcare facilities to be taken over by the government if public hospitals are stretched"
  • The Malay Mail has clarified that under the state of emergency, the King can make laws as the Parliament will be suspended. Examples of such laws include "Temporary takeover or use or request for use of private hospitals’ assets, land, buildings, movable assets, resources to treat Covid-19 patients to reduce government hospitals’ burden. This can include private sectors’ manpower, expertise, facilities, labs, utilities"; and "giving the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) enforcement powers similar to those given to the police, and other powers to carry out public health functions"
  • There will be no Parliament and State Legislative Assembly sessions for a stipulated period of time, which means "lawmakers, both at the state and federal levels, will not be able to make new laws or change any existing law"
  • All forms of elections (general elections, state elections and by-elections) will not be allowed to take place. The general elections can take place once the independent committee deems the Covid-19 situation in the country is under control (or has recovered)
  • All politicians are advised to set aside their differences and stand in solidarity with the public in the efforts to contain Covid-19
  • "The judiciary will continue to be the beacon of justice in our country and I will never interfere in the business of the court," as mentioned in his speech
  • Bursa Malaysia and the Securities Commission will continue to play the market facilitator role 
  • "An ordinance against economic sabotage, monopoly and excessive price increase of goods can be proclaimed by Agong," as reported by Bernama 
  • He also assures the rakyat to stay calm and to trust the government to tackle the Covid-19 situation with more efficiency, moving forward
  • Strict action will be taken against anyone who tries to disrupt government affairs around Covid-19 and the country's economy
  • Throughout the emergency period, all economic activities will continue to take place as per SOPs

On the morning of Jan 12, it was reported that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has consented to the proclamation of emergency (darurat) "for a period up to Aug 1, 2021, to contain Covid-19", according to Bernama. However, the state of emergency could end earlier if the current wave Covid-19 cases subside.

The Star reports that the King agreed to the decision after a meeting with Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday (Jan 10).

"I urge the people to remain calm and strong to face this state of emergency and the movement control order for our own safety and interest," said Comptroller of the Royal Household of Istana Negara Datuk Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin in a statement on Tuesday (Jan 11). 

In addition, the King approves of the establishment of an independent committee comprising MPs and the opposition and the relevant government health experts. This committee will advise the King should the state of emergency be allowed to end earlier, depending on the situation. 

There are no further details given at this point. However, PM Muhyiddin is expected to elaborate during his 11am address today (Jan 12).

What could this mean for Malaysians? Guess we'll find out by 11am, but one thing's for sure, the move could potentially delay elections, if any. Back in Oct 2020, the government also sought the King's consent for a state of emergency. According to The Straits Time article dated Oct 24, 2020, this could mean:

"Parliament can be suspended during an emergency, while by-elections and the general election can be postponed. The federal government would be empowered to push through policies that it would normally not be able to."