Weeks after a travel bubble across the causeway was discussed…
It appears that the imaginary bubble has burst.
Following a recent spike in cases in Malaysia, it seems that the reopening of its border for leisure-related purposes is the least of the nation’s concerns right now…
With the country now supposedly considering the declaration of an actual emergency.
Everything About Why M’sia Wants to Declare an Emergency & What Happens If It Happens
The Malaysian government is currently awaiting the King’s permission to unlock the nation’s emergency powers.
Deemed as an “economic emergency”, the process ensures that government expenditure to halt the Covid-19 pandemic will not be affected by political play.
The move comes after a recent spike in cases across the causeway, with Sabah being the worst affected. After a campaign for state polls was held in September, cases increased abruptly, with a number of affluent politicians caught up in the ‘storm’.
To date, the country has more than 25,000 cases, more than double the numerical figure just a month ago.
In fact, today (24 October), Malaysia reported its record number of daily cases: 1,228 cases were confirmed.
Since 14 October, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor have been under a partial lockdown.
But Is There More Than Meets The Eye?
Though the reason for the emergency has been attributed to the pandemic (with numbers to boot), politician Anwar Ibrahim has expressed his doubts over the genuine ‘reason’ at hand.
Anwar had expressed last month that he had enough “support” in parliament to cause an upset, but when he met up with the king, he didn’t provide the numbers but merely the numbers.
Though seemingly questionable, the notion is not that far-fetched considering how back in March, Muhyiddin had taken office with just a two-seat majority.
If Anwar’s claim is truly the case, Muhyiddin’s coalition could potentially give way on 6 November, if he is unable to pass next year’s budget due to the…erm, lack of majority in parliament.
A snap election could then be called.
And this is where Anwar’s “concern” lies.
Should the proposed emergency go ahead, it will mean the suspension of parliament, and the budget will not be “put to vote”.
As such, the opposition leader has condemned the move as an attempt to hold power, though the claim has not been verified.
According to The Straits Times, many Malaysians are reportedly not interested in a general election amidst the current pandemic.
However, some have echoed Anwar’s view that declaring an emergency at this point may harbour additional reasons than just for “public health”.
Of course we're all fed-up of politics. But even if they suspend Parliament and declare emergency, the politicking won't stop. Because suspending Parliament IS a political move, NOT a public health one.
— Marina Mahathir (@netraKL) October 23, 2020
Why? Because you think they care about the people?
Of course not. They’ve an agenda. And COVID is very useful to threaten people. Even though it’s death rate is very small.
— Bruno Decourcy (@BrunodeMalaisie) October 23, 2020
A pause from politicking… you mean a pause from democracy? It was a slippery slope and we're now at the bottom of it. Congratulations
— Sharifah Hani Yasmin (@sharifahyasmiin) October 23, 2020
Seven former presidents of the Malaysian Bar Council have also disagreed with Muhyiddin’s proposal.
“There is no violence, or threat to the security of our nation,” they wrote in an open letter.
“If the predominant objective of the suggested declaration is to suspend parliament, and to gain emergency powers then it will obviously be an unlawful design which, if unchecked, will disenfranchise and deceive Malaysians.”
The next session of Malaysia’s parliament will commence on 2 November, with the presentation of budget scheduled for 6 November.
Effects Of The Economic Emergency
On Friday, Muhyiddin went for a two-hour audience with the king, after his entourage conducted a special meeting with the chief of police and head of the armed forces.
Reasons cited for the emergency include “political instability” and the ongoing pandemic.
Should the king give his approval, parliament will be suspended, with by-elections and the general election potentially postponed.
Government spending to halt the ongoing epidemic will not be affected by political play.
Military will be absent from the roads, and people can perform their daily routines as usual.
Law and expenditure will likely be decided upon directly by executives.
To date, Malaysia has been under an emergency for a total of four times.
The first was all the way back in 1964, following the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation when Indonesian soldiers stepped into Malaysia.
The second was announced in September 1966, just one month after the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation concluded. Called the Sarawak Emergency, it was the first to be restricted to one state, and came after political conflicts in the region.
The third was called in 1969, and the cause was attributed to the May 13 race riots.
In November 1977, the fourth emergency was called in Kelantan, amidst a power struggle between Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).