The Asian Voice

Malaysia's declaration of state of emergency a blame game

The Sin Chew Daily contributor says Malaysia's declaration of a state of emergency was due to factors such as the divided opposition led by Anwar, Mahathir and Shafiee.

Malaysians are angry at the opposition for not being able to put the country first.
Malaysians are angry at the opposition for not being able to put the country first.ST PHOTO: JOEL CHAN

KUALA LUMPUR (SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - After the announcement of the movement control order (MCO), Malaysians were shocked at the follow up declaration of the Emergency by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah (Agong) on the advice of the Prime Minister.

I was teaching a Zoom class when my son burst in the room saying: "Dad they just declared an Emergency in Malaysia!"

I asked my students for permission to pause while I checked that information, and lo and behold, it was verified.

Needless to say, my lecture after that was less than enthusiastic. Why teach the future architects about the structure of knowledge and the importance of critical thinking when an emergency declaration would not care two cents about that ability?

After a full day of telephone conversations and discussions, I had to stop after Asar prayers to reflect on the events of the day.

There was a call from a media news portal and I gave my academic answer to all the journalist's questions. After the interview, I sat in deep thought and asked myself how did we get to this terrible state of affairs that will irrevocably damage the very spirit of democracy and dignity of all citizenry?

Undoubtedly this was a historic occasion when Malaysia officially failed as a nation. Whose fault is it or was it?

WhatsApp is abound with the popular narrative that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is going to lose his shirt because of Umno's imminent pullout, and when Umno lawmaker Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz finally put his money where his mouth was, that was the final straw.

The popular narrative continued that in order to stop the Sarawak election and the general election with this loss of majority, the PM had sought the King for emergency powers to stay in power.

Many are also wondering why the King agreed when he had denied this request before.

I have always stood by in my writing that emergency powers should not be declared because of the pandemic in order to stop elections because I am a strong believer that elections do not cause or worsen the pandemic if done correctly.

For me, the failure of the Sabah election that caused the second wave was due to mismanagement by the election agency, law enforcement and the politicians themselves in not following strict standard operating procedure (SOP).

If the authorities had come down hard on all the politicians regardless of their affiliation, there would not be a second wave.

Furthermore, New Zealand and the US had their elections done in a most professional manner following SOP.

So, why now has the King agreed to the emergency declaration? I would like to discuss three other parties which are at fault but are not being popularly mentioned in the mainstream narrative.

Firstly, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, former premier Mahathir Mohamad and Chief Minister Shafie Apdal could not sit together to come to an agreement on who should be the PM nominee for the opposition.

Tun Dr Mahathir still wants to be a major player even though his Pejuang party does not have an inspiring army of lawmakers.

Datuk Seri Shafie is making his bid for power and he too does not command any strong presence. Datuk Seri  Anwar is the strongest in the numbers game but he always comes off short.

Malaysians are clearly angry at the opposition for not being able to put the country first. Dr Mahathir should follow his own advice and "pergi balik-lah" (Go back)!

He was trusted twice by the people and he disappointed the people in both instances. No way is anybody going to trust him again.

I believe that Malaysia should have a PM from Sabah or Sarawak and Mr Anwar should back down even though he has the majority support. If Mr Shafie was named, then all the parties will be united in an opposition front.

When PM Muhyiddin no longer commands the majority, at least the King can see a united alternative but he did not and so Tan Sri Muhyiddin can govern indefinitely even if he loses the simple majority.

Thus, Mr Anwar, Dr Mahathir and Mr Shafie are at fault for not putting up a united front.

The second party at fault is Umno. Its recently held assembly saw a convincing rejection of PN and yet the warlords in Umno waited and waited to act.

Why? Everyone knows that Umno was only sabre-rattling and not serious because the party wants the court cases to be dropped and its warlords rewarded with projects and titles that promise wealth and power.

The party waited too long and PM Muhyiddin struck a death blow which will render Umno a pariah party of beggar MPs and leaders. Had Umno struck hard and fast, PN would have drowned without any way to be saved.

But Umno waited a day too long. Why? It was greedy for the shadow of a bigger bone in the water. Umno can also "pergi balik-lah". Game over.

The third party at fault is, strangely enough, us Malaysians. When news broke that Mr Anwar was discussing with some Umno MPs, Malaysians reacted with disgust.

This reaction drove the No Umno-DAP combo mantra and perpetuated the Chinese-against-Malays narrative.

Now, every democracy-loving Malaysian has lost the nation as the emergency has ripped apart whatever dignity was left simply because Malaysians cannot think strategically but prefer idealism to pragmatic reality. Think about it.

The horse has bolted and the rice has become porridge.

We, as a nation, are in a complete constitutional mess. There is no longer any dignity left when Parliament, as the people's check and balance, is no longer functioning.

Before the emergency, Malaysians were already wary of the institutions of governance that had very little credibility and integrity. Now, those institutions are given a blank cheque by desperado politicians.

The irony is, we as Malaysian citizens and our opposition representatives are also the major culprit in this unfolding drama in the early hours of the new year.

Thus, 2021 may be known as the year when another "pariah" nation is born to the world.

Professor Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is a lecturer at a local university. Sin Chew Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media titles.