Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has published a rare blog post in English opposing the government's move to seek a state of national emergency in Malaysia.
On Oct. 23, Malaysian media reported that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is seeking a state of emergency as the country battles another spike in Covid-19 cases, with a movement control order being implemented in some states.
However, critics have pointed out that the state of emergency would suspend parliament and give the government free reign to make laws and commit public spending without a vote from the members.
Mahathir's blog post
On Oct. 24, Mahathir weighed in.
In his post, Mahathir argued that the government's existing powers are sufficient to deal with the pandemic.
He charged that the state of emergency will be used to justify suspending parliamentary debate.
"What can Emergency do to stop the pandemic more than what we can do now. Nothing. But an Emergency would give extra power to the Prime Minister. What he has done so far has not mitigated the political, economic and social problems affecting the country."
"Most of the things done is about the political situation. This Government is not the Government elected by the people. It has come to power by undemocratic means. And now it is only concerned about staying in power.
Faced with the possibility of being overthrown, the Prime Minister wants the powers under a state of Emergency. The only benefit would accrue to the Prime Minister, as Parliament would be paralysed. He would claim that it is the wish of the Palace."
Before the move to seek an emergency, Muhyiddin's government might have been in danger of falling after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim claimed that he commanded a majority in parliament, and called on Muhyiddin to resign.
However, Anwar's hopes looked dashed after UMNO leader Ahmad Zahid Hamidi issued a public statement calling for unity within Muhyiddin's government to focus on the pandemic and the economic downturn.
But Mahathir is not the only opposing politician to voice his skepticism about Muhyiddin's move.
Pakatan Harapan heavyweights speak up
DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang, Mahathir's erstwhile partner in the Pakatan Harapan coalition, said a state of emergency declaration would be the move of a "desperate" Prime Minister.
According to Malay Mail, Lim said:
"How can there be justification for the imposition of a state of emergency in Sarawak, Melaka, Johor, Putrajaya, Terengganu, Kelantan, Pahang and Perlis which have all less than 100 Covid-19 active cases each?
Has the government lost control of the Covid-19 pandemic in Kedah, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Perak and Negri Sembilan as to justify the proclamation of emergency under Article 150 of the Constitution for these states?"
Malaysiakini reported that Amanah leader Mat Sabu said that Muhyiddin's move was to "defend his position as prime minister."
Mat Sabu, who also worked with Mahathir in Pakatan Harapan, said the "real emergency" was Muhyiddin himself, not the country.
Anwar himself slammed the move, and called the government out for not having a solid strategy to handle the crisis.
JUST IN: PKR chief @anwaribrahim slams PM Muhyiddin Yassin amid reports of an emergency. "When the government is itself the source of that threat then a state of emergency is nothing more than the descent into dictatorship and authoritarianism," Anwar said. pic.twitter.com/ChR7YqZJIF— emmanuel samarathisa (@esshimself) October 23, 2020
Top image from Mahathir and Anwar's Facebook pages.