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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Opposition demands Najib declare state of emergency

Electricity and water supply have been severely interrupted. Flood victims are eating instant noodles “cooked” in cold rainwater.
tony-pua_banjir_300KUALA LUMPUR: Given the fact that a quarter of a million victims have been affected by the worst floods in living memory, the Opposition is calling on Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, in a kamikaze arguments of sorts, to seriously consider declaring a state of emergency.
“It will instill greater urgency and effort by all Government departments and machinery to alleviate the sufferings of the people and minimise the number of victims affected by the floods,” the Opposition claimed in a statement.
Hence, the question that arises for the Opposition was whether Najib was misled by his advisers or even the Attorney-General on the declaration of emergency.
Or did Najib want to avoid at all costs a declaration of emergency for reasons best known to him and use the “insurance” argument as an excuse to justify his decision? asked Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, speaking on behalf of the Opposition.
Given the “oddity” of the excuse, added Pua, he had taken the trouble to review the typical property and vehicle insurance agreements of several insurance companies and found absolutely no trace of any exclusion as a result of the Government’s declaration of “state of emergency”.
“There is absolutely nothing in standard insurance agreements which invalidate compensation in the event a “state of emergency” is declared, particularly in the event of natural disasters,” said Pua.
Despite the fact that more than 250,000 flood victims have been evacuated since the crisis started approximately two weeks ago, reiterated Pua, Putrajaya steadfastly refused to declare a “state of emergency” to mobilise the entire machinery at its disposal to manage, mitigate and resolve the natural disaster.
Since five days ago, the number of evacuees has multiplied from 90,000 to more than 250,000, he continued.
“Our field trips to various parts of the flood-affected areas have also found that electricity and water supply have been severely interrupted.”
One relief worker reported that an “uncle” told him that he had to eat instant noodles “cooked” in cold rainwater, he disclosed.
Najib gave the excuse on December 27 that “if the government announces an emergency, the implications that will arise include insurance companies being absolved from paying compensation…and compensation arising from damages to property and vehicles is enormous.
“That’s why if we declare (an emergency), this means it includes the ‘force majeure’ category, and insurance companies need not pay compensation (in this case),” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin opined on Christmas Day that the criteria for a “state of emergency” had not been met, including “the total breakdown of water and electricity supply”.
He also argued that the number of evacuees have not reached a critical level – “we have to consider the total number of people being evacuated, is it in hundreds of thousands?”
An emergency decree will enable the Government to suspend fundamental liberties in the Federal Constitution. It was the emergency decrees, not one but several over the years which were all not repealed until recently, which allowed the Government to introduce the draconian detention without trial Internal Security Act (ISA) to quell dissent and stifle the Opposition.
In the absence of the ISA, Putrajaya has resorted to the colonial Sedition Act 1948 — which circumvents the Federal Constitution — to strip the constitutional right to free speech and crack down on dissent and the Opposition.

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