PETALING JAYA: Setting up the National Operations Council (Mageran) would not be the appropriate move at this time, says the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary.
In a video posted on his Facebook, Datuk Dr Marzuki Mohamad said this in response to calls by certain people to set up the body, which was in place during the last emergency in 1969.
“Calls for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to set up a body with absolute power, such as Mageran, is not the right move.
“To set up Mageran is a step backwards which would inhibit the plans of the government and the efforts of the civil service, frontliners, industry players and all rakyat to restore the country from the current health and economic crises,” he said on Wednesday (June 9).
With the right mechanisms in place to handle the pandemic, he said things would return to normal once herd immunity is achieved before the end of the year.
“By that time, we will be seeing a more vibrant political and democratic process - not just for Parliament to reconvene, but even to hold an election.
“But for the present time, let us focus our efforts on overcoming the Covid-19 problem. With the ongoing vaccination process and the movement control order in force, we need just a bit more time to exit this crisis,” he said.
Dr Marzuki explained that in 1969, there were fierce racial riots in Malaysia following the general elections, and the country was under a caretaker government.
As such, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at that time proclaimed a state of emergency on May 15 that year, and the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 1969 (No. 2) came into force on May 16.
He said the Ordinance allows for governing power under Article 39 of the Federal Constitution to be conferred to the director of Mageran, who has been selected by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
“In dispensing his duties under Ordinance No. 2, the director of Mageran is assisted by members which are appointed by the director, according to his absolute discretion.
“The Mageran director also possesses absolute power to appoint members for the state operations committee and district operations committee,” he said, adding that these committees have to execute the policies by the director.
He added that on May 17, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong appointed the then deputy prime minister Tun Abdul Razak as the director of Mageran.
Dr Marzuki, however, stressed that the current situation that the country was facing was far different from the circumstances in 1969.
“Firstly, we are not faced with a security emergency, but a health emergency.
“Secondly, we have a working and functioning Cabinet. This Cabinet meets every Wednesday and makes many decisions not just on the Covid-19 pandemic, but also the administration of the country, economic management, rakyat welfare.
“Thirdly, the government has a few dedicated mechanisms to handle the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
He said there was the National Security Council on Covid-19 management which meets at least twice every week, and which is chaired by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
This meeting, he added, is attended by the relevant Ministers, Mentri Besar, chief ministers, chief secretary to the government, Attorney-General, Chief of Defence Force, Inspector-General of Police, Health director-general and the heads of the relevant government agencies.
He also said there was the National Security Council meeting on the emergency which meets at least once a week, and which is chaired by the Prime Minister.
This meeting discusses the Emergency ordinances that should be proclaimed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to help the government handle the pandemic more effectively.
He also said there was the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee (JKJAV), jointly chaired by the Health Minister and the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister.
“The government at present has the suitable mechanisms to handle the emergency, which is a health emergency and not a security emergency.
“The Prime Minister has before this stressed that the proclamation of emergency does not mean that it will be a military rule.
“A civilian government is still functioning and the traits of a civilian government will be safeguarded during the entire time the emergency is in force,” he said.