Let’s focus on the right things

TALK of implementing a state of emergency surfaced soon after the special Cabinet meeting ended at noon yesterday.

It was certainly a historic discussion which lasted more than three hours.

The Cabinet made the decision unanimously – to propose to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to enforce an Emergency.

The other proposal was to dissolve Parliament but it would not be feasible, not with the Covid-19 pandemic raging at the moment.

Over the past few weeks, the sentiments among Malaysians have been clear – and loud. They are tired of excessive politicking.

His Majesty Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah had also expressed dismay over the actions of politicians on Oct 16, where he advised them “to reflect on their actions so that the country would not be dragged into political uncertainty”.

Selangor Ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah also joined in, expressing concern over endless politicking, pointing out that the people were “bored and disgusted with politicians”.

The Cabinet members’ decision in pushing for an Emergency to be implemented will be the latest of the few in the country’s history, not including the statewide ones.

After the 1969 racial riots, the Emergency (Public Order and Crime Prevention) Ordinance 1969 was enforced.

The EO, as it was called, was enacted by the National Operations Council chaired by Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, then-Deputy Prime Minister.

The powerful Ordinance was used to detain those deemed to be subversive.

I was in Standard Two then but I knew enough about what was going on because I lived in a predominantly Malay area, aptly called Kampung Melayu, in Penang. The Chinese were a minority in the area.

This will be the third Emergency I will be experiencing, excluding the ones imposed by the states

But the Emergency this time will be completely different.

There will be no curfew and unlikely to have the presence of armed soldiers and police at every corner.

In a nutshell, it is an Emergency declared for health, economic and political reasons.

It will be business as usual for the rest of us – and thankfully an end to the political intrigue, plotting and shifting of political allegiance which has gripped the nation for months. Frankly, this has taken too much of our attention.

Nobody wants a snap election except those who feel they are “entitled” to rule the country or be the next Prime Minister. Let’s face it – none of them are interested in us, it’s just to fulfil their ambitions.

It is certain that the Muhyiddin Administration will come under heavy criticism for the decision to push for an Emergency, with his opponents likely to say that he only wanted to circumvent a defeat in the Dewan Rakyat, which is set to meet on Nov 2.

He will not escape being accused of having a personal agenda. But then again, which politician has no agenda?

Given his wafer-thin majority and untrustworthiness of the Members of Parliament, many of whom are ready for deals to get themselves rewarded, no one is sure, as Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has found out the hard way.

All letters of support, with party letterheads, have proven to be useless in the end. A few even denied having ever signed these documents. Don’t even talk of Statutory Declarations.

Given the political uncertainties, even though the Emergency will carry negative connotations, it is only logical for the Prime Minister to decide on this.

Any snap election, if it was carried out, would be disastrous for Malaysia.

It will help 222 people to become MPs or ministers but the rest of us – 32 million Malaysians – will have to put up with the campaigning and get ourselves exposed to the dreaded disease.

Sure, we can say that Singapore and South Korea had their elections without any rise in cases. But we know what Malaysians are like in terms of discipline, as much as we refuse to admit it.

For now, the Batu Sapi by-election can wait. That includes the Sarawak state election, which was to be held by June 2021.

The Emergency will put an end to the political instability.

There are genuine concerns that the Emergency will drive away investors but it needs to be looked at from another angle.

A fluid and volatile political situation isn’t going to help. Businessmen look for stability and a clear case is Vietnam, which is hardly a beacon of democracy but it is attractive to investors.

There would obviously be a need for a timeframe for the Emergency, of course, as it should not be used as a political tool to prolong the tenure of any individual or party.

But the government will face a backlash as the Emergency will not be a popular one. It will need a strong narrative to convince the majority of this move.

The politicians can fight it out once Malaysia has won the more important battle – against the pandemic and to restore our economy.

Let’s get our priorities right.

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