Lift emergency, MCO enough, urges civil society group
A CIVIL society group has urged the government to lift the state of emergency and just rely on the latest movement-restriction measures to tackle the Covid-19 health crisis.
Agora Society Malaysia said the movement-control order is effective in suppressing the spread of the virus.
The group of intellectuals, writers and activists also blames the government for the spike in Covid-19 cases.
“The second MCO might not have even been necessary had the government not lifted many of the restrictive measures prematurely in early December, such as interstate and inter-district travels.
Agora Society also slammed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim for continuing his efforts to bring down the government at all costs despite the ongoing health crisis.
Anwar is aware that such an irresponsible act would inevitably lead to the political instability and quagmire that the nation is in right now, it said.
While the emergency declaration deserves the strongest condemnation, at the same time, “the recklessness demonstrated by Anwar and his allies, too, has made a mockery of Malaysian democracy”.
“Agora Society, therefore, calls on the Muhyiddin government to lift the state of emergency immediately, so as to ensure that Malaysia’s political institutions could continue to function properly.
“Meanwhile, politicians from both sides of the political divide must put the interests of the people above everything else, stop politicking, and focus on fighting Covid-19.”
Civil society demands transparency as emergency rule kicks in
“Parliament is now suspended and the approval of public spending may not be transparent,” said Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah, chairman of Sustainable Development Network Malaysia (Susden Malaysia).
Parliament’s suspension results in citizens losing their voice in the legislature and a lack of accountability over government decisions, he said.
The purpose is to curb the rising number of Covid-19 infections, although critics have said an emergency is not necessary, especially after Muhyiddin reinstated the movement-control order (MCO) for six of the country’s worst affected states from January 13 to 26.
Muhyiddin said it would also empower the government to enact emergency laws to fight the pandemic.
This includes using private healthcare facilities and seizing land. He, however, assured that military rule would not be enforced nor would there be curfews. Malaysia would “remain open for business”.
Transparency International Malaysia president Dr Muhammad Mohan said if the government had no choice but to impose an emergency, then it must be transparent and engage the opposition as a check and balance.
“We hope that the government will continue operating with transparency, engage with the opposition closely and overcome this Covid-19 crisis together.”
Elections cannot be held during a state of emergency and Muhammad said this would stop the long-drawn politicking that has plagued the Perikatan Nasional government since it took power in March last year.
“The government must now focus on finding ways to contain this pandemic.”
Khoo Ying Hooi, secretary-general of the Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham), asked for fairness from the government during these eight months.
She is concerned about unfair and unequal penalties imposed on those who breach the Covid-19 standard operating procedure.
“The government must use emergency powers within the parameters of human rights,” Khoo said.
Adrian Pereira, executive director at North-South Initiative, said a state of emergency would not help marginalised people.
“An emergency is not going to stop human trafficking or the illegal crossing of the borders.
“The emergency is just a measure by people who want to stay in power,” said Adrian, whose organisation works in the area of migrant labour rights.
He said the declaration is a “cover” for the government’s poor management of the pandemic, which surged in late September after successfully bringing numbers down.
“The government has not managed the prisons, detention centres and the issue of workers’ hostels well.
“It is a combination of poor enforcement and incompetency with the handling of businesses. Now that the Covid-19 figures are up, they do not know what to do and they force this emergency on us.
“It means that anyone who cannot do their job properly can just call for an emergency.”
The government should make fact-based and data-driven decisions and look at what really caused the spike in Covid-19 cases, rather than make decisions on the pandemic from a political point of view, said Adrian.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT