Why did Muhyiddin like a thief in the night, convened a special Cabinet meeting to put Malaysia into a state of emergency totally without any accountability and transparency?

Why did the Prime Minster, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin acted like a thief in the night and convened a special Cabinet meeting to put Malaysia into a state of emergency totally without any accountability and transparency?

When did Muhyiddin reach the conclusion that a state of emergency is the best solution to his survival as the eighth Prime Minister of Malaysia, which might otherwise be shorter than the seventh Prime Minister of Malaysia of 22 months?

As he had a zoom Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, it would appear that he reached this conclusion only on or after Wednesday. Who were the people who convinced him so?

If Muhyiddin succeeded in his plot to put Malaysia into a state of emergency, he would have successfully followed in the footsteps of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is exploiting the Covid-19 pandemic to his own political advantage, however temporary.

This is most ironic, when next week, the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to claim the scalp of its foremost political victim, the United States President Donald Trump as many expect him to be defeated in the US Presidential election on Nov. 3 – not so much by Joe Biden but by the Covid-19 epidemic.

This is because the US Presidential election has been turned into a referendum over Trump’s atrocious handling of the pandemic, resulting in more than 8.8 million Covid-19 infections and over 230,000 fatalities in the United States – although this is regarded as under-reporting!

There are three types of national leaders in facing the Covid-19 pandemic. The first are like Donald Trump, who deny the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic although over 230,000 Americans have been killed – more than the Vietnam War casualties estimated at over 210,000.

Other leaders in this mould are Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro and Mexican President, Lopez Obrador and they have led Brazil and Mexico to be among the Top Ten countries in the world with Covid-19 infections. Brazil has nearly 5.4 million cases and 157,000 fatalities while Mexico has over 880,000 Covid-19 cases and over 44,700 deaths.

The second group of national leaders exploited the Covid-19 pandemic for their political survival and is led by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Most of the national leaders in the world are in the third group, who seek to win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic without politicising the issue, uniting their people and banking on an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach.

The national leaders of the first two groups are heading for infamy, and I would urge Muhyiddin to come out of the second group and join the third group.

Malaysia must not be put into a state of emergency just to provide life-support for Muhyiddin’s political survival.

Until today, Muhyiddin has not shared with Malaysians his plan to suspend Parliament and put Malaysia into a state of emergency and Malaysians have to rely on the rumour mills, which have worked overtime since Friday, and the social media to piece together as best as possible what was going on in high affairs of state.

Most unusual and uncharacteristically, Malaysians are getting more information from the Yang di Pertuan Agong than from the Prime Minister on the Prime Minister’s proposal.

Yesterday, for instance, the Yang di Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah advised the people not to make speculations that could create confusion and anxiety and disrupt the people’s cherished harmony.

This followed an audience granted to Muhyiddin and key ministers with the Yang di Pertuan Agong in Kuantan after the special Cabinet meeting on Friday.

No proposal from a Prime Minister as the present one to declare a state of emergency and suspend Parliament to fight the Covid-19 pandemic had received such universal rejection from all quarters in Malaysia since the country achieved Merdeka in 1957.

Constitutional experts, lawyers, political analysts and university academicians are virtually united in their view that a state of emergency is unsuitable and not needed in Malaysia to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and that there could be no justification for any suspension of Parliament.

Even leaders from within the Perikatan Nasional government coalition are speaking up against the proposal.

UMNO Deputy President, Datuk Seri Mohd Hasan has called on the government to use democratic and scientific means to battle the raging Covid-19 pandemic in the country as Malaysia is not in a state of economy, health and security systems paralysis.

Veteran UMNO leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has warned that a state of emergency may be the “final nail in the coffin” of Malaysia’s battered economy while former Minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz has likened declaring a state of emergency to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic to “killing a few rats using a bomb”.

Even the former Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, who had imposed a ”self-quarantine” on himself since the Sheraton Move in February, had spoken up and warned that a proclamation of emergency by the executive can be reviewed by the courts.

In view of the almost universal opposition in Malaysia to the proposal to declare a state of emergency to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, and to suspend Parliament, Muhyiddin should summon another emergency meeting of the Cabinet to broaden its option to fight the Covid-19 pandemic without (i) declaring a national emergency; and (ii) the suspension of Parliament.

The Federal Territories Minister, Annuar Musa, when asking critics to suggest alternatives, said 32 other countries have already declared a state of emergency to address the Covid-19 pandemic, but he did not say how many of these 32 countries suspended their Parliaments as well.

The world is facing an upsurge of Covid-19 infections and fatalities, but this is no reason for Malaysia to declare a state of emergency and to suspend Parliament.

When the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020, there were more than 118,000 Covid-19 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people had lost their lives.

Today, the daily increase of Covid-19 infections is three times the global cumulative total on March 11. A grim record was recorded on 23rd October, when the world daily increase registered the highest-ever total of 490,021 cases.

In terms of Covid-19 infections, Malaysia stands No. 89 in the list of countries with the most number of Covid-19 infections, headed by United States, India, Brazil, Russia, Spain, Argentina, France, Colombia, Peru. Mexico, United Kingdom, South Africa, Iran, Chile, Italy, Iraq, Germany, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Philippines as the world’s top 20 countries in terms of infections.

During the second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic in March this year, Malaysia was No. 18 in the word’s list of countries in terms of having the most number of Covid-19 infections.

We have also done comparatively well in the international arena even in Covid-19 fatalities, as we were in March No. 33 in the world’s ranking of the most Covid-19 fatalities while we are now No. 103 in the world in terms of Covid-19 deaths.

We acknowledge shock and consternation that Malaysia has 214 Covid-19 fatalities, but we are not in the league of nations whose fatalities qualify them to be the world’s top 10 countries such as United States, Brazil, India, Mexico, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France, Peru and Iran, whose fatalities range from 32,320 to 230,060 deaths.

MPs such as Anthony Loke and Syed Saddique Syed Abdul Rahman and political analysis like Wong Chin Huat have suggested that one way out of the present political impasse was a “confidence-and-supply” agreement to enable the 2021 Budget to be passed to allow an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach to the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

All Members of Parliament, regardless of political party, want the war against the Covid-19 epidemic to be successfully waged.

The 2021 Budget will be presented to Parliament on Friday, November 6, 2020, and the first vote on the 2021 Budget will be at the end of the policy debate in the Dewan Rakyat on Monday, November 23, 2020.

I suggest Muhyiddin be given time until Budget Day on Nov. 6 to determine whether it is possible to ensure political stability through the “confidence and supply” proposal or other possible options so that there could be an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” war against the Covid-19 epidemic led by the 222 MPs in Parliament.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri