PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The government has adequate powers to curb the transmission of Covid-19 in the country without having to declare an emergency, former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday (Jan 12).
Tun Dr Mahathir said Malaysian citizens are generally obedient when it comes to following government orders compared with Western societies, where citizens would protest any sort of restrictions.
"Actually at this moment, even without an emergency, the government has enough powers to manage the Covid-19 situation," said Dr Mahathir.
"When you tell Malaysians to go into lockdown, they will go into lockdown. Tell them not to move, they won't move. Tell them to stay at home, they will stay at home," he added.
He said that one or two people might protest, adding that action can be taken against them.
"The emergency is called because of the increasing spread of Covid-19, but what is it that the government cannot do without declaring an emergency?" he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Malaysian King Abdullah Ahmad Shah has assented to the government's request for an emergency order that will be effective up to Aug 1, or earlier should Covid-19 cases come under control.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has assured Malaysians that the move will not result in any curfews or military rule.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin also gave his assurance that a general election will be called as soon as the emergency can be lifted, based on the recommendations of an independent committee.
The emergency order comes a day after Mr Muhyiddin announced that several states will be put under stringent movement controls starting on Wednesday to curb rising coronavirus infections.
Malaysia has recorded more than 2,000 new cases daily for the past week, leaving the healthcare system on the brink of collapse, with active cases reaching 28,554.
On Tuesday, it reported a record 3,309 new coronavirus infections, on top of five deaths.
Cumulatively, Malaysia has 141,533 Covid-19 cases and 559 deaths.