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Rejection of emergency rule – a victory for parliamentary democracy!

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Aliran welcomes the Agong’s decision to reject Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s advice to declare a state of emergency and to suspend parliamentary democracy.

We are relieved that wisdom has prevailed and that the forces that would have plunged Malaysia into the abyss have been thwarted.

A state of emergency merely to ensure the survival of the Muhyiddin administration would have been disastrous for the nation. It would have hurt the economy, which had already been badly hit by the pandemic. A declaration of emergency would have paved the way for dictatorial rule. It would have neutralised Parliament, where the people’s elected representatives meet, as a forum for debate, consensus-building and policymaking. It would have neutered Parliament as an essential component of our system of checks and balances.

More than that, it would have crushed our system of parliamentary democracy.

For a few days until Sunday evening, the entire nation held its breath. So many civil society groups, politicians from both sides of the divide, academics, military veterans and the legal and medical fraternities spoke out against emergency rule. Several online petitions flew all over.

It was refreshing to see so many groups and individuals rising to defend our system of parliamentary democracy. It was a triumph of People Power.

By Sunday evening, a collective sigh of relief was audible across the length and breath of the nation. The nation had been brought to the brink – and then held back from the precipice.

It is noteworthy that the royalty recognise the role of Parliament as part of the system of checks and balances. This would mean MPs must continue to play their role in checking executive excesses and abuse of power.

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For Muhyiddin Yassin and his key advisors who threatened the nation with emergency rule, the honourable thing to do would be to resign.

While the nation’s political impasse has not yet been resolved, one thing is clear: never again should the nation’s leader and his or her cabinet try to seek a declaration of emergency to destroy our parliamentary democracy merely to ensure the survival of their regime. And shame on those civil society groups and individuals who came out in support of an emergency or the proroguing of Parliament.

In our previous statement, we urged all Malaysians not to allow darkness to envelop the land and instead to loudly and persistently call on all concerned to uphold our parliamentary democracy.

The people of Malaysia rose to the occasion magnificently and showed they are willing to speak out loudly in defence of our system of parliamentary democracy. For this, we are heartened and grateful.

Aliran executive committee
26 October 2020

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