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Why is Muhyiddin still thinking of emergency rule to stop polls?

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Many in Sabah would thank the PM if there is a no-contest in the Batu Sapi by-election, Jem writes.

Wasn’t it just a dozen days ago that the Agong denied a controversial request by the Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and his team to declare a state of emergency in the country?

The Agong, in a statement on 25 October by the comptroller of the royal household, noted the government was handling the coronavirus pandemic effectively and reminded all politicians to stop any politicking that would disrupt the nation’s administration.

“The King and the eight Rulers felt it is important to respect the check-and-balance mechanism between the various branches of government, and the role of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, which is to balance various demands to ensure justice and to check any abuse of power,” the keeper of the ruler’s seal said later that day.

Three days later, in another statement issued by the comptroller of the royal household, the King urged all MPs to support Budget 2021.

Now, I would have thought that those words would have been enough for anyone to sit up and take notice!

But judging by the PM’s recent speech where he again indicated his desire for a state of emergency, it would seem he did not get the message. He said this was the only way to stop further elections for fear of a fresh outbreak of the pandemic. The Batu Sapi by-election in Sabah is coming up soon and the Sarawak state election must be held by 2021.

Note that this speech was given just a week after the PM’s failed attempt to obtain the King’s consent to declare a state of emergency.

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Haven’t we all been told that we must respect the King? So what is the prime minister saying to the rakyat?

What did Muhyiddin mean when he said, “But what can we do because that is a requirement in the Federal Constitution that we have to hold elections. Unless Emergency is declared under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution in Batu Sapi and Sarawak, we can postpone these two elections until Covid-19 ends.”

The PM added that if “if the Sarawak State Election were to be held, he [the health director general] was worried that the rural areas of Sarawak which do not have complete health facilities would not be able to accommodate the increase in positive Covid-19 cases that would likely rise sharply after the election.”

Note that the Sarawak state election can be legally delayed until August 2021.

So is the prime minister speaking about elections in the East Malaysian states or the one that may or may not be called in the peninsula?

The nomination day for the Batu Sapi by-election in Sabah is on 23 November with polling on 5 December. The seat fell vacant on 2 October, upon the death of incumbent Liew Vui Keong.

So will the by-election in Sabah be used as an excuse to revisit the state of emergency scenario?

As the by-election is coming up soon, what should be done? Will it go on despite the pandemic or will the government heed Umno deputy president Mohamad Hassan’s advice: “It is known that BN will not contest in Batu Sapi and I urge other parties to also give way to Warisan to win uncontested. It is a way to pay our respects to the late Liew and to avoid having an election at a time like this.”

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The people of Batu Sapi and of Sabah will certainly thank Mohamad Hassan and all the other parties who have decided not to contest in this by-election. This will help to prevent the pandemic from spreading.

If the Umno deputy president’s advice is ignored and the by-election goes ahead, it would be of great benefit to the health and wellbeing of the people in Batu Sapi if politicians from Kuala Lumpur did not go stomping around in Batu Sapi, to make their voices heard. They have enough people in Sabah to do their bidding.

The Ministry of Health must also come up with more stringent measures for politicians and voters to comply with. If that can be enforced, the rise in Covid-19 cases might be less than expected.

The people in Batu Sapi can then perform civic duty and vote without fear. It can be done as Singapore and New Zealand have shown.

The thought of the country being placed under a state of emergency is just all wrong based on the evidence of what the nation is already doing. Is the country in such a bad shape to warrant it? A state of emergency would have terrible consequences for the economy, investors’ confidence, democracy and national unity. Is this what the people want?

So what could be the real reason for this? Is it really aimed at stopping elections in elections in Sabah and Sarawak? Or is that just a sideshow?

Is it to stop a snap election from being called in the peninsula? Despite Umno saying it would support the PM and his Perikatan Nasional government, the reality is Umno wants more power and a bigger say in the government. It wants better cooperation based on “respect’ and “political consensus” – that’s how the party puts it.

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The prime minister will be hard-pressed to deny Umno’s requests, for fear of the party walking away and supporting somebody else.

There is the added fear of a no-confidence vote in Parliament, which is currently sitting, and the uncertainty over whether Budget 2021 will be passed.

Instead of being a responsible prime minister and rallying the people to fight the third wave of the pandemic, he appears to be prioritising himself. This is the political reality in Malaysia now, and the PM is caught in a cleft stick of his own making!

If Mohamad Hassan’s advice is heeded, the people of Batu Sapi and the rest of Sabah would be very appreciative of the PM’s thoughtfulness, especially during this pandemic.

Jem, an Aliran reader, still cares deeply about Sabah, despite having lived in the peninsula for some time

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