Any declaration of a state of emergency by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government will only be for political purposes, not to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, Najib Razak claimed in a Facebook post on Monday, Jan. 11.
Najib: Emergency is really for politics, not Covid-19
The remarks from the former Malaysian Prime Minister came as speculation about the declaration of emergency grew, before the Malaysian king eventually made the announcement on Tuesday morning, Jan. 12.
Shortly after the emergency was announced, Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said general elections will be held as soon as the Covid-19 pandemic has eased or is controlled fully.
Najib also opined that an emergency is not needed to fight the pandemic, raising the example of the movement control order (MCO) announced in March last year.
Measures under the MCO were strict, with army personnel being ordered to help manage the pandemic, the Pekan Member of Parliament (MP) said.
"What other measures were lacking in fighting the pandemic during the MCO?" he asked.
Furthermore, he added that Malaysian law under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease 1988 is strong enough to contain the pandemic without the need to declare and emergency and suspend parliament sittings.
He ended his post by saying should the current administration go ahead with the emergency, it will contribute to growing perception among the people that the government only wants to maintain their political power, and not work in the people's interest.
Mahathir: Emergency is not needed to contain Covid-19
Najib's former mentor-turned-foe, Mahathir Mohamad, who served as the fourth and seventh Prime Minister of Malaysia, expressed a similar opinion.
The 95-year-old told reporters that the government has sufficient powers to suppress the spread of Covid-19 without resorting to an emergency, The Star reported.
"When you tell Malaysians to go into lockdown, they will go into lockdown," he said.
"Tell them not to move, they won't move. Tell them to stay at home, they will stay at home."
He further asked, "What is it that the government cannot do without declaring an emergency?"
Anwar and Pakatan Harapan: Emergency declaration is to keep government in power
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has previously criticised the current administration's bid for a declaration of emergency in October last year.
He said an emergency would aim to keep the government in power, as it would be used as an excuse to suspend parliament in order to stop any bid to oust the administration, Associated Press reported.
His coalition Pakatan Harapan had also questioned the need for an emergency as well after it was announced, saying in a statement that Muhyiddin is using the pandemic to keep his administration in office, Reuters reported.
They added that existing laws are enough to manage the spread of the virus.
The emergency declaration had come after Muhyiddin announced a fresh round of lockdown in six states for at least two weeks starting from Wednesday, Jan. 13.
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Top image adapted via NurPhoto/Getty Images & Mahathir Mohamad/Facebook