By TENGKU RAZALEIGH HAMZAH
COMMENT: The Covid Pandemic has caused so much pain, distress and suffering to the man-on-the-street and it breaks my heart every time I hear or read stories on how the ordinary Rakyat are struggling and coping with the crisis.
2. Every day, more and more businesses, big and small, are closing down. More people are getting laid off and unemployed. For the many self-employed consultants and contractors, there is hardly any work out there for them. Yet, they somehow have to feed and provide the basic necessities for themselves and their families.
3. When the pandemic first started, there seemed to be some determination by the Government to control the spread of the disease and to provide the necessary healthcare and treatment needed for the patients concerned. Financial aid was right provided. The front line workers and the civil servants are still doing a good job, even now, in providing the services needed.
4. Over time and lately, there seems to be a lack of a coordinated and integrated approach in dealing with the crisis in what appears to be a lack of clear and exemplary leadership by the Government. There are also double standards on the enforcement and penalty meted out, one for the ordinary Rakyat and another for government ministers and well connected people. Even on the procurement of the much-needed Covid vaccines for our people from overseas, the Government has taken a narrow, short-sighted and irresponsible approach of not supporting any genuine private sector initiatives, knowing full well that it would cost the Government nothing but would increase the chances of our country getting a workable vaccine when it is ready.
5. As I have reasons to believe that the Prime Minister (and his Cabinet) no longer commands the support of a majority of the Dewan Rakyat and has therefore, lost his legitimacy, I have recently written to the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat to treat a “motion of no confidence” as a matter of priority to be debated and voted on at the earliest possible opportunity. This is in line with the principles of our Parliamentary System of Democracy, which the Constitution is supreme and above that of the Standing Orders and the authority of the House is far above that of a government minister. My initiative with the Speaker, should not be seen as self-serving or that I may have a vested interest in the position of the prime minister, but in upholding the principles of our Parliamentary System.
6. I am dismayed and shocked that the Prime Minister (with the support of his Cabinet) is now seeking the consent of our YDP Agong to declare a state of emergency and presumably to put himself in charge of this emergency administration which would have far-reaching powers.
7. I am not questioning the right of any Prime Minister to seek a declaration for a state of emergency with the YDP Agong as stipulated in our Constitution but rather the basis, rationale, timing and the real motive for it. We are now having a public healthcare crisis that is severely impacting the livelihood and economy of our people and which the Government may not be managing the crisis in the best interest of the public.
The public and politicians across the divide, except for a few recalcitrants, are co-operating with the Government on the measures and SOPs. Our Parliamentary System of Democracy is working well and there are no mass rebellion or riots on our streets. I cannot see any honest basis for such a request while I can only suspect non-honourable motives behind it.
8. If the Prime Minister were to get his way in imposing the proposed state of emergency, as an economist myself and the former Minister of Finance and former Minister of International Trade & Industry (and former Chairman of World Bank & IMF), I can say with some certainty that it may be the “final nail in the coffin” of our already battered economy. Local and foreign investors would shun us completely. Business confidence would be at ground zero.
* Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is the Member of Parliament for Gua Musang (in Kelantan)