I did not want to comment earlier on the matter simply because all the legal and constitutional experts, politicians, activists, NGOs, and many more were giving their considered opinions on the request by the government for His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to agree to a national declaration of emergency.
Now that the King has announced his decision, I would like to state that to me, personally, as a former government servant and having served under all our previous emergencies since our nation’s independence, it appears as if the government’s move was purely a political expedient.
Every emergency (Communist Terrorism, Indonesian Confrontation and May 13 racial disturbances) declared in the past was because our national security was threatened.
Our National Security Council (MKN) is operational and meets daily to assess the Covid-19 situation in the country and advises the government on steps to take in collaboration with health and other ministries to mitigate the spike in new cases.
The MKN has the power to order lockdowns, impose curfews, among others in badly affected areas with the concurrence of the government. Hence, an emergency order was totally uncalled for.
I salute the King and his fellow rulers for disagreeing with the proposal for a national emergency which clearly demonstrates that our constitution and democracy prevail over political intrigues.
I sincerely hope that all political parties on both sides of the divide heed His Majesty’s advice.
K Thanabalasingam is a retired rear admiral and was the first Malaysian to be appointed as chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.