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State of emergency: For self preservation – or to protect the nation?

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It has nothing to do with protecting the nation but it has everything to do with preserving their status quo, P Ramakrishnan writes.

It is almost certain that a state of emergency will be declared. It is imminent. It can be tomorrow or the day after, but it will be declared soon enough within the week.

The rationale for this is not very clear or convincing. It is claimed it is necessary to combat Covid-19. But doesn’t the existing law allow for effective control of this? What more can be achieved to control Covid-19 with the declaration of emergency?

Will the state of emergency reduce the overcrowding in prisons? Will it help to bolster the shortage of healthcare personnel and facilities in Sabah, which was much neglected under the Barisan Nasional rule? What more can be achieved that we are unable to do so under the present movement control order?

If it was borne out of a genuine concern to control Covid-19, we could have taken steps to combat it much earlier. A state of emergency could have been declared to prevent Musa Aman from stealing a duly elected Warisan government, which would have created unrest in Sabah. Or it could have been declared to prevent the election in Sabah, knowing that voters coming out to vote posed a great danger in spiking the number of Covid-19 cases.

But that wasn’t the concern. What was more important was that Perikatan Nasional was likely to take over Sabah. Caution was thrown to the wind because power was within reach. PN took the risk and created clusters of Covid-19 all over Sabah which are threatening to explode.

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If PN was serious in tackling the spread of Covid-19, it could have addressed this issue earnestly and much earlier. But that wasn’t the case. The backdoor government politicians were squabbling all the time for positions and for well-paying appointments in government-linked companies. Even the claim by Umno for the chief minister’s position in Sabah is still persisting. Umno even threatened to pull out of PN if its demand, which also included the deputy prime minister’s post, was not granted.

All these months it was about them – not the people or Covid-19.

Many tend to think the demand to have a vote of no confidence in the PN government is mounting and gaining momentum, and whatever excuse the Speaker had given to evade putting this matter to vote has been dismissed as most ridiculous.

Apart from the Speaker’s attempt being seen as trying to save the PN government, Budget 2021 would have undone whatever the Speaker is trying to do. The inevitability of the Budget being defeated is staring starkly and nothing can save the PN government from toppling. In that event, the prime minister and his cabinet would have to resign.

It is this possibility that has to be prevented at all costs. And the only way to avoid the collapse of the PN government – many would argue – is to declare a state of emergency to save its skin.

It has nothing to do with protecting the nation but it has everything to do with preserving their status quo.

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The excuse for the state of emergency reminds us of a very telling quotation: “A hypocrite is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump and make a speech for conservation.”

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