Civil servants nationwide have been instructed to adopt a new sign-off for their official correspondence that would mention the ongoing state of emergency.
The new sign-off would read ‘Prihatin rakyat: Darurat memerangi Covid-19’ (Care for the rakyat: Emergency to fight Covid-19).
Civil servants previously signed off with the phrase ‘Saya yang menurut perintah’ (I, who obey orders), but this was replaced with ‘Saya yang menjalankan amanah’ (I, who am fulfilling trust) in September 2018 after Dr Mahathir Mohamad became prime minister for a second time.
The new sign-off referencing the emergency will be used until the emergency is over, according to a letter issued today by Public Service Department (PSD) director-general Mohd Khairul Adib Abd Rahman.
The letter is addressed to all top civil servants and has been posted on the PSD’s website.
In the letter, Mohd Khairul explained that the government has decided to adopt the new sign-off so that each and every civil servant would give full commitment to the measures taken to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This phrase will be used as long as the emergency proclamation is in effect. This order takes immediate effect,” he said, signing off the letter with the new sign-off.
The emergency is in force until Aug 1, but an independent committee would be set up to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong whether it could be ended sooner.
The emergency ostensibly gives the government more powers to take measures to curb the pandemic, without seeking parliamentary approval, but critics have expressed concern over the lack of checks and oversight against those powers.
Opposition politicians have also accused Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin of using the emergency to maintain his grip on power after losing support from MPs. -MKINI
Emergency does not automatically mean suspension of Parliament, says Jomo
A PROCLAMATION of emergency does not necessarily mean Parliament has to be suspended, said Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram.
The honorary fellow of the Academy of Professors (APM) said based on historical context, there was never a suspension of Parliament due to an emergency, except during the May 13 racial riots in 1969.
“Parliamentary suspension during an emergency only occurred in 1969 and not in 1966 during the Sarawak emergency,” Jomo said in the “After Vision 2020: History and the Future of the Nation” forum organised by the APM.
Chronologically, the first prime minister, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, declared a state of emergency after the Indonesian military invasion in September 1964.
Abdul Rahman also declared the suspension of Parliament in 1969 and this was followed by the establishment of the National Operations Council.
Kelantan declared a state of emergency on November 8, 1977, due to the political crisis in the state.
“During the 1964 general election, there was an emergency related to the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation but Parliament was convened.
“It was also true during the emergency in Sarawak in 1966 and in Kelantan in 1978,” Jomo said.
Jomo said it is very important to clarify as there is a perception an emergency proclamation will automatically result in the suspension of the Dewan Rakyat.
“This is important to emphasise because some think Parliament itself will be suspended,” Jomo said.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin declared a state of emergency, effective until August 1, aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic.
Muhyiddin had said the emergency proclamation did not allow for Parliament and the state assemblies to sit until a time set by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The prime minister’s decision was criticised by the opposition and several Umno leaders who said the proclamation was simply to keep Muhyiddin in power. THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT
MKINI / THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT