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IDEAS: Democracy must not be sacrificed in the fight against COVID-19; why the need for an Emergency?

  • IDEAS is alarmed by the decision by the government to invoke an emergency and questions the need for an Emergency Declaration
  • The COVID-19 crisis must be addressed, but this can and should be done within our democratic process
  • The suspension of Parliament and state assemblies undermines the vital mechanisms and accountability
  • The government should prioritise defeating COVID-19 and alleviating the burdens on the people instead of implementing an emergency, which can be construed to be for political reasons.

Kuala Lumpur, 12 January 2021 The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) is alarmed by the Emergency Declaration announced by the Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today.

While the rise in COVID-19 cases around the country is indeed concerning, the Movement Control Order (MCO) that was announced yesterday evening should have been more than sufficient to contain the spread and ease the burden on our healthcare system. There has been no clear justification of what actions the government is unable to take which require an Emergency.

IDEAS notes that the commandeering of military and use of private hospitals has been cited as justification for the Emergency, but questions whether there could have been other laws enacted for such a purpose.

“The Emergency was announced on 12 January, when in fact the Emergency began on 11 January 2021, which demonstrates a lack of public transparency on a decision that will significantly affect the nation and its people’s livelihoods”, comments Tricia Yeoh, CEO of IDEAS.

“The abrupt announcement has also led to the speculation that it is being carried out for political reasons instead of for public health concerns, which the MCO more than sufficiently meets.”

“The most worrying aspect of this Emergency is the suspension of Parliament and all State Assemblies. At a time when government policies need to be scrutinised more than ever, this suspension can only lead to arbitrary and unaccountable decision-making.

“We welcome the guarantee that the Judiciary will be unimpeded, and that the All-Party Parliamentary Group alongside all Parliamentary Select Committees will carry on their activities.

However, it is important for the government to note that their current uncertain majority in Parliament will only lead to further instability. Parliament would have been the natural alternative means to resolve the current political impasse, but Parliament has now been suspended. If the bipartisan committee is truly independent as announced, we would therefore welcome the commitment to hold a general election once they declare it safe to do so,” said Tricia.

Furthermore, the negative impact of an Emergency on the economy and businesses cannot be overstated.

“COVID-19 has already impacted many businesses, particularly SMEs negatively. Many have had no choice but to lay off workers and some have even closed down. Now that an Emergency has been declared, we fear that business and investor sentiment will be further affected”.

“Whatever decisions that will be made from this point onwards, we in civil society will consistently keep the government transparent and accountable. This is the time for tough decisions to be made; to prioritise good governance that delivers for all Malaysians and to ensure there is absolute focus on recovery,” she adds.

Abuse of power and struggles for political survival must be cast aside for the sake of the country.

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2021-01-13T09:41:30+08:00 13th January 2021|Media Statements|Comments Off on IDEAS: Democracy must not be sacrificed in the fight against COVID-19; why the need for an Emergency?