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No justifiable reason for emergency, say 10 ex-Bar presidents
Published on: Sunday, January 17, 2021
By: FMT
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File photo: Bernama
PETALING JAYA: Ten prominent lawyers, all former presidents of the Malaysian Bar, have expressed concern over the declaration of emergency, saying the government had not met the requisite conditions under the Federal Constitution.

In a joint statement, they said the proclamation of an emergency was only suitable in extreme circumstances where “the security, economic life or public order in the country is threatened”.

“It is incumbent upon any responsible government to avoid seeking such a proclamation, save in the most extreme of circumstances. Do these circumstances exist here?”

The statement was signed by Param Cumaraswamy, Zainur Zakaria, Cyrus Das, Mah Weng Kwai, Kuthubul Zaman, Yeo Yang Poh, Ambiga Sreenevasan, Ragunath Kesavan, Christopher Leong and Steven Thiru.

They said relying on the Covid-19 pandemic was hardly a legitimate reason for an emergency, given the existence of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988, the movement control order and allowing most businesses to continue operations.

The group also expressed concern over the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 as it allowed for unrestricted power over person and property, where assessment of compensation could not be challenged in court.

They added that the suspension of Parliament and state legislative assemblies during this period were unconstitutional as any proposed ordinances must be tabled in Parliament under Article 150(3) of the Federal Constitution.

“There appears to be no justifiable reason to do so. All it does is that it insulates the executive from accountability,” they said.

“It is regrettable that the elements of reasonableness and proportionality are absent in this matter.”



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