Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Sarawak Emergency raises questions - State Sovereignity, Extension of life of DUNs, Election laws and government failures.

2 issues of importance:-

Sarawak State Legislative Operations and Elections -  should not the decision rest with the State Rulers - rather than the YDP Agung, noting Malaysia is a Federation of States???

The term of office of the elected State Assembly persons have EXPIRED - as such can anyone extend this term beyond the mandatory limit? In an emergency, having an interim Chief Minister and State Cabinet maybe OK, but not extension of the life of State Legislative members???

The government could have made necessary amendments to Election Laws, to enable the carrying out of any Elections safely during the Covid-19 pandemic, but they have failed to do so...The needed amendments could have been done by Emergency Ordinances(in a rush), later post-Emergency replaced by the needed Act of Parliament and/or Constitutional Amendments.

Remember, after the Sabah by-elections during the pandemic period, everyone realized the existing flaws in our existing Election laws - and this could have easily be dealt with by need Constitution/Law Amendments and later by the Emergency Ordinances,...and still by an Emergency Ordinance which ought to have amended the flaws in laws governing Elections so that we could still have elections even during this pandemic. However, our government simply choose to delay elections - and without the needed amendments of law - we will have to proclaim Emergency whenever Malaysia faces a health pandemic or some natural disaster... The amendment now would likely receive less or no resistance from even the Opposition. That amendments could have been tabled on the 1st day Parliament sat...or could have 'during the Emergency' dealt with by an Emergency Ordinance first..

STATE SOVEREIGNTY - Malaysia is a Federation of States, and should not matters of Elections in the State of whether the State should be under Emergency be decided by the State itself(or its Rulers) - worse case, the KING with the agreement of the State Rulers. It is OK for the King to 'suspend Parliament' but is it right for the King alone to suspend State Legislative Assemblies, and make determination of who retains Executive powers in States? Consent should be obtained from the Sarawak Ruler - not simply the Chief Minister, in my opinion.

SARAWAK State Legislative term expired in June 2021 - that means the State Legislative Assembly persons were no more 'people's representatives' thereafter - and there needed to be a State Elections for the people to choose their NEW 'people's representatives' within 6o days vide a State Elections. The extension of term also imposes financial obligations - the extension means they still have to be paid. 

In my opinion, in that case, the State Legislative Assembly could have been dissolved, and the executive power until the next Elections could be placed in the hands of an interim Chief Minister, who could appoint an interim Cabinet. This means, the existing State Cabinet also can be dissolved - and a smaller interim State Cabinet could be set up, sufficient to manage the State during this 'emergency' until the next State Elections. [After all, the last Emergency effectively suspended democracy in that the State Legislative Assembly could not sit - could not act as the needed 'check and balance' in a democracy.


(3) The Dewan Undangan Negeri shall, unless sooner dissolved, continue for five years from the date of its first sitting and shall then stand dissolved.

Why should the people of Sarawak be still paying their State Legislative Assembly Persons, and even the non-essential State Cabinet members?

ALL this problems with the holding of Elections during a pandemic could have been resolved by the needed amendments in law noting also that many other countries did successfully have their elections and General Elections during this pandemic.

The norm maybe is RISKY - so a new norm may be needed, where registered voters may not have to physically travel to vote at voting centers -  online voting, smaller voting centers at the respective communities/villages, staggered voting over several days so that a crowd is prevented at voting centers, Voting centers at the different districts in Malaysia outside Sarawak (and the respective constituencies) - to prevent registered voters returning back to Sarawak to vote, so many possibilities... 

Of course, one needed amendment is the bestowing of power on the INDEPENDENT Election Commission with the power to postpone elections beyond the required 60 day limit, for reasons like an health pandemic, natural disasters, war, etc...One is concerned when such power is bestowed on the King/Rulers and the incumbent government leaders - it should lie with the Election Commission.

Remember, the problem was known since early last year, and we have yet to see proposals for the needed reforms of Election Laws. 

What happens if the Covid-19 pandemic continues on for years - will the persons who has 'lost' the legitimacy as peoples' representative, a mandate for 5 years only, is continuing to govern?


Is the power now with the King(acting on the advice of the Federal Cabinet) to be able to suspend State Legislative bodies, and/or to extend the terms of State Executives is a matter that should really come within the powers of the State Rulers(acting on the advice of the State Cabinet)... 

Remember, if the KING did not consent, no State Legislative Assemblies in any of the State could sit during the pendency of the past Emergency..., and they still cannot do so until the relevant Emergency Ordinances are amended, repealed[or annulled or revoked].

Remember, Emergency Ordinances LIVE ON for another 6 months after an Emergency ends. As it stands, I believe that all the Emergency Ordinances are still alive.

And when State after State decided to convene their State Legislative Assemblies, without first getting the King's order, a CRISIS happened - that may have been why the PN-BN Plus were rushing to try get rid of those Emergency Ordinances before Parliament sat..or maybe not. 

All that was needed, in my opinion, is an amendment of the said Emergency Ordinance, to restore the power to the State Rulers to decide when their respective State Legislative Assemblies would sit...

COVID-19 also calls on us to re-visit State and Federal Lists in our Federal Constitution. As it stands, health is under the Federal List - hence, it is difficult(impossible) for the State to do anything about health matters - maybe, Health should be under the List, where both the Federal Government and State has the needed responsibility when it comes to HEALTH.

Food for thought - In our DEMOCRACY, there is the Federal Government, State Government and the Local Government. Maybe, the Federal Constitution must provide an additional 'Local Government List'. As it is, all these 3 levels of government do have the power to make and enforce their OWN set of laws.

PROCLAMATION OF EMERGENCY (Sarawak) is laid out below. But I have not had sight of the NEEDED Emergency Ordinance that will legally postpone the Sarawak Elections, etc. A Proclamation alone is insufficient, in my opinion. I have seen references to Emergency (Essential Powers) (Sarawak) Ordinance 2021, but have not managed to have sight of it.

See earlier posts:- 

EMERGENCY may need to be continued (or re-proclaimed later) as the PN-BN Plus failed in many aspects?..Emergency Ordinance live on for 6 month after Emergency ends unless...

An apology by Muhyiddin/Takiyuddin would have sufficed - BUT what happened and where is this going? 

ALL Emergency Ordinances repealed - a foolish move that will jeopardize us? EOs allowed government to do certain things but now how? 

Parliament - Laws so Parliament can function virtually - not HYBRID? UMRAH? Hagia Sophia? Different Quarantine Requirements?



WHEREAS WE are satisfied that a grave emergency exists whereby the security, economic life and public order in the Federation are threatened arising from the epidemic of an infectious disease, namely Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19):

AND WHEREAS pursuant to Clause (3) of Article 21 of the Constitution of the State of Sarawak, the Dewan Undangan Negeri of the State of Sarawak (hereinafter referred to as the "Dewan Undangan Negeri") should have stood dissolved on 7 June 2021, but the said Clause (3) of Article 21 had no effect pursuant to paragraph 15(1)(a) of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 [P.U. (A) 12/2021] which suspends the dissolution of the Dewan Undangan Negeri:

AND WHEREAS paragraph 15(1)(a) of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 shall cease to have effect on 2 August 2021 in accordance with the Proclamation of Emergency [P.U. (A) 7/2021] issued on 11 January 2021 whereby the general election to the Dewan Undangan Negeri is required to be held within sixty days from 2 August 2021 in accordance with Clause (4) of Article 21 of the Constitution of the State of Sarawak:

AND WHEREAS Clause (1) of Article 150 of the Federal Constitution provides that in the said circumstances WE may issue a Proclamation of Emergency to suspend the general election to the Dewan Undangan Negeri in order to prevent any further increase in the spread of the epidemic of COVID-19 if the general election is held:

NOW, THEREFORE, WE, AL-SULTAN ABDULLAH RI'AYATUDDIN AL-MUSTAFA BILLAH SHAH IBNI ALMARHUM SULTAN HAJI AHMAD SHAH AL-MUSTA'IN BILLAH, by the Grace of Allah, Yang di-Pertuan Agong of the States and territories of Malaysia, in exercise of the powers conferred on US as aforesaid PROCLAIM that a grave emergency exists and that this Proclamation shall extend throughout the State of Sarawak from 2 August 2021 to 2 February 2022:

ISSUED at OUR Istana Abdulaziz in Indera Mahkota, Kuantan, Pahang Darul Makmur, this twenty ninth day of July, two thousand twenty one.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong

By His Majesty's Command,

Prime Minister


State of Emergency in Sarawak extended until February 2022

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah gave his consent to a new proclamation on Thursday, which was published in the government gazette yesterday. — Bernama pic
Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah gave his consent to a new proclamation on Thursday, which was published in the government gazette yesterday. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 — The Emergency Proclamation which is set to end tomorrow will instead be continued in Sarawak until February 2, 2022.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah gave his consent to a new proclamation on Thursday, which was published in the government gazette yesterday.

However, the proclamation will first be discussed in Parliament, per Clause 3 of Article 150 of the Federal Constitution.

According to the gazette, His Majesty as the head of state has expressed his agreement that a major emergency is underway that threatens the safety, economic livelihoods and peace in the Federation, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Therefore, under Clause (3) of Article 21 of the Sarawak State Constitution, the state legislature was supposed to have been dissolved on June 7, but Clause (3) of Article 21 does not have any impact per paragraph 15(1)(a) of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021, which suspends the dissolution of the state legislature.

“Paragraph 15(1)(a) will cease to be in force on August 2, 2021, per the Emergency Proclamation, which was issued on January 11, wherein the state election must be held within 60 after August 2, according to Clause (4) of Article 21 of the Sarawak State Constitution,” it read.

His Majesty has decreed that Clause (1) of Article 150 of the Federal Constitution enables him in this instance to issue an Emergency proclamation to suspend elections for the state legislature, in order to prevent Covid-19 from spreading further.

“Therefore I, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah, by the grace of Allah, as Yang di-Pertuan Agong for the states and territories of Malaysia, do hereby carry out the authority vested in me as stated above, to declare a major emergency to be occurring, and for the Proclamation to cover all of Sarawak beginning on August 2, 2021, until February 2, 2022,” read the gazette.

The proclamation was issued at Istana Abdulaziz in Indera Mahkota, Kuantan.

Previously, it was reported that the Sarawak state government had acceded to the King and left the matter for discussion between His Majesty and the Governor of Sarawak Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, to determine when the 12th state election will take place. The decision was meant to be made after June 6. - Malay Mail, 31/7/2021

Don’t repeat Sabah ‘mistake’ with Sarawak election, health experts tell state, Putrajaya

Health experts said that proper health measures must be in place this time to avoid a repeat of the Sabah election catastrophe last year. – Malay Mail photo

KUALA LUMPUR (July 22): Health experts are calling on both the federal and state governments as well as the election regulator to exercise caution in deciding whether or not to proceed with the Sarawak election due in October.

They said that proper health measures must be in place this time to avoid a repeat of the Sabah election catastrophe last year, which precipitated the third wave of Covid-19 infections in the country.

Khazanah Research Institute public health policy researcher Nazihah Muhamad Noor said the most important aspect to look at during a Covid-19 election is the campaigning and polling methods.

She said those running for seats may be vaccinated already, but the people they meet may not be. Besides, she said a vaccinated person can still be a carrier and infect others, more so now that new strains have emerged that are doubly contagious, like the Delta variant.

For a start, Nazihah suggested that more polling stations be opened and in well-ventilated areas.

“On the voting process itself, much can be done to minimise the risk of outbreaks. For example, we can increase the number of polling stations to minimise crowding, polling stations should be placed outdoors or in well-ventilated locations.

“We must also consider extending voting hours to prevent crowding. Election staff may need to wear full protective personal equipment while voters must be made to wear double masks and practice physical distancing,” she told Malay Mail when contacted yesterday.

She also suggested that postal voting be extended to everyone to minimise physical travel to and from the polling stations, and to allow voters under quarantine the chance to make their ballot count.

“Learning from the Sabah experience, we must also practise stricter quarantine rules, especially for those travelling to and from high-risk areas to vote,” Nazihah added.

Chief executive officer for the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs Tricia Yeoh said the Election Commission should look into postponing the state election, if the law provides for it.

“It would take some sort of constitutional impasse where the Sarawak state governor and perhaps the Conference of Rulers and the Agong decide whether or not there are special circumstances that allow further delay.

“This needs to be explored with the help of constitutional and law experts on the potential legal options to do this.

“However, if the current term expires the governor can elect an interim state government until it is safe to hold an election,” she said.

To Yeoh, one of the biggest changes would be political campaigning with the elimination of large-scale events.

She said if the Sarawak election were to happen, candidates would have to use social media to campaign, something which could extend to the Malay peninsula eventually.

“Whether it’s online, radio or TV, minimal contact and making use of technology will be key.

“In which case the mainstream media needs to be fair to all political parties and allow equal air time.

“We must remember that even if we roll out of Phase One, large-scale campaigning is a thing of the past and this must extend beyond Sarawak to peninsular Malaysia, it has to change for good.

“The pandemic situation may improve but it’ll never really go away for some years,” Yeoh added.

The Sabah state election last September has been credited for kickstarting the huge surge in Malaysia’s number of daily Covid-19 cases in the last quarter of 2020.

Politicians, campaigners and voters flocked to the north Borneo state in large numbers and mingled freely on the campaign trail, exchanging fist bumps, hugs and other forms of physical contact. Cases in the peninsula subsequently spiked upon their return across the South China Sea.

Part of the blame went to poor travel restrictions and health screenings as well as weak compliance towards SOPs.

Private medical practitioner Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh said border control will play a crucial role in Sarawak’s state elections.

“They didn’t have much border control in Sabah. Hence at this stage, if we want to hold the election in Sarawak, we shouldn’t be repeating the mistakes in Sabah. It’s where things went wrong and people who got infected there came over here.

“However, if we can achieve good herd immunity or get a good amount of people vaccinated then maybe they can go ahead,” said Dr Kuljit when contacted.

“But we must still follow the SOPs coupled with tight border control creating a green bubble among themselves,” he added.

The Malaysian Medical Association said the country’s number one priority should always be the health of all residents.

“Health should remain the highest priority,” its president Prof Datuk Dr M. Subramaniam told Malay Mail.

“The decision to allow state elections to proceed should not be rushed. The Ministry of Health has to be absolutely certain that it is safe to allow elections to proceed before the state decides.

“The decision has to be based on solid current scientific data from MOH on the Covid-19 situation in Sarawak,” he said.

The Sarawak Legislative Assembly’s five-year term expired last month, but the state election has been suspended following the declaration of a nationwide Emergency by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in January.

The Emergency is scheduled to end on August 1, which means the Sarawak state election must be called within 60 days.

However, Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said there is no confirmation if an election will be held this year.

As the Emergency is still in effect, he said he is unsure if it will end come August 1.

“The prime minister must decide with the rulers and the Agong what kind of declaration to make on August 2 but for now I haven’t seen it.

“Our term is done, but due to the Emergency we’re still in office.

“So I cannot say for now whether or not elections will happen but I’m sure come August 2 logic will prevail,” the politician from Sarawak’s biggest party Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu told Malay Mail when contacted.

Sarawak is among seven states that have transitioned to Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan, which means there is greater social and economic leeway.

However, the state saw another 76 new cases of the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) yesterday.

According to Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s Institute of Health and Community Medicine director Prof Dr David Perera, samples from positive cases were tested between June 7 and July 13.

The majority of the cases, at 52, were detected in the state capital, Kuching. – Malay Mail, Borneo Post, 22/7/2021


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