PETALING JAYA: A former minister has urged politicians to play by the rules and not resort to a state of emergency to ride out a political crisis or loss of support.
“An emergency should not be used to resolve a political crisis, although we have resorted to this method many times before,” Zaid Ibrahim said in an interview with FMT.
Political leaders, be they in government or opposition, must be steadfast in playing by the rules. “If the incumbents lose support, they must not be afraid to step down because in a democracy, one day they will come up again. This will ensure stability.”
A state of emergency was declared on Jan 12 for the government to deal with the Covid-19 crisis. It will remain in force until Aug 1. Parliament and state assemblies have been suspended.
Opposition politicians have accused Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin of calling for a state of emergency because his government, which has a narrow majority, had lost support in the Dewan Rakyat.
Zaid hoped that elections would be held after August as a good first step towards restoring democracy. “It will be a disaster for the country to extend the emergency rule much longer. The economic damage will be severe,” he said. “Already foreign investors are leaving in droves.”
He said multiple assurances were needed from the prime minister that the state of emergency would be a short one, and that once the vaccines are available and Covid-19 is in control, “we will have an election”.
He said a state of emergency was essentially a one man rule. “Some say we are not a military emergency but a civilian one. There is no difference, except one wears a suit and the other is in uniform.”