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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Sabah, Sarawak govts playing safe amid constitutional crisis, say analysts


The Dewan Rakyat was told on Monday that all the emergency ordinances had been revoked as of July 21, a move that took MPs and the rakyat by surprise. (Bernama pic)

KOTA KINABALU: A political analyst says the Sabah and Sarawak governments are playing it safe by not speaking up over the revocation of the emergency ordinances by the Perikatan Nasional-led (PN) government.

National Council of Professors fellow Jeniri Amir believed both state governments should make their stance clear over the move, which parliamentarians from both sides of the political divide have condemned.

“They need to voice out their opinions but I think basically for Sarawak, if you were to read between the lines, the state government still supports Muhyiddin,” he told FMT.

“In any case, the silence means they are supportive. But if they are not, they have to voice out as people are watching.”

Jeniri Amir.

He said the Sabah government’s silence was also evident of them wanting to stay above the fray.

Jeniri said the state governments must speak up as the country is currently facing a constitutional crisis.

“At the moment both sides (the Palace and the government) have different interpretations of the constitution but there needs to be clear understanding of the doctrine of separation of power here, where the power of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA) needs to be understood.

“The biggest question mark now is the decision on the EO revocation has not been gazetted even until now. So any decision made is still not valid, these ordinances are still in force,” he said.

On Monday, law minister Takiyuddin Hassan told the Dewan Rakyat that all the emergency ordinances had been revoked as of July 21 and that the government had decided to cancel them under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

This sudden announcement on the first day of the special sitting of Parliament, took MPs and ordinary citizens by surprise. The opposition claimed this “secret revocation” was to prevent the need to debate and vote on it as that would prove Muhyiddin did not have majority support in the Dewan Rakyat.

Subsequently, the Palace issued a statement saying Putrajaya did not get the King’s consent to revoke the emergency ordinances and that Takiyuddin’s statement in Parliament was “inaccurate and had misled the members of the Dewan Rakyat”.

In replying to the royal rebuke, the Prime Minister’s Office said that the government’s revocation of the emergency ordinances had been done in accordance with the law and the Federal Constitution.

After the statement by the Palace, the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) said it fully supported the country’s system of constitutional monarchy although it did not make any specific mention on the emergency ordinances’ issue.

Meanwhile, Oh Ei Sun, of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, agreed that the Sabah and Sarawak governments are backing the federal ruling coalition over the revocation issue despite their silence.

Oh Ei Sun.

“You cannot expect them to disagree with the position of the federal government or rather the PN’s position.

“I think not even a single MP from the peninsula who supports PN had also voiced their support for the government (over the revocation issue). So why should Sabah and Sarawak come out and say ‘yes we are supportive of this government’?

“Everybody is keeping silent to see how it unfolds. The monarchy and the government appear to have different constitutional interpretations and people are cautious about this, so let’s see how it goes,” he said.

Oh added that the state governments would also not care too much over the public perception if they did not make a stand.

“This is because, when it comes to election time, the material well-being of rural communities matters more.

“So they don’t really have to take a political stance in this matter, as long as they could somehow take care of the rural communities, the infrastructure and their material needs.”

Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) senior lecturer Lee Kuok Tiung believed leaders from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) had not jumped like others into the EO fiasco as they wanted to spend their energy on the pandemic.

“I spoke with some of the Sarawakian leaders from GPS and they told me that they preferred the parliamentary sitting to focus on addressing Covid-19 and the economic well-being of the people.

“Instead, it has strayed from such purposes. There were a lot of disruptions in the proceedings as well as people interrupting when someone else was presenting. They didn’t put the people first,” he said.

Lee was also perplexed with the opposition who he said had condemned the EO as ineffective all this while.

“Suddenly today they became the ‘hero’, with accusations of ‘derhaka’ (betrayal) and ‘membohongi’ (deceiving) the Dewan Rakyat.

“This prompts us to ask ourselves is there really a constitutional crisis at this time or the parliamentarians are just playing rhetoric to achieve their personal agenda to push Muhyiddin to resign?” he said. - FMT

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