We need to be very alarmed at the possibility of a Proclamation of Emergency. There are very serious consequences.
A Proclamation of Emergency can only be issued when a grave emergency exists whereby the security, or the economic life, or public order in Malaysia is threatened, according to Article 150(1) of the Federal Constitution.
A political emergency for the powers that be is not grounds for emergency. The failure to pass a budget in Parliament is not a threat to economic life, it is just a part of democracy.
Once a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, the Prime Minister is empowered to make laws without going through Parliament, by way of ordinances promulgated by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA), who incidentally acts on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Laws made under such circumstances:
- would be valid even if they are inconsistent with the Federal Constitution, except for matters related to religion, citizenship, language, Malay custom, or Sabah and Sarawak native law and customs; and
- cannot be questioned by the courts.
This means that the Prime Minister could pass laws that may violate our fundamental liberties under Part II of the Constitution (right to life, equality, freedom of movement, right to property, freedom of speech, assembly and association, et cetera).
This was what happened under the Emergency Ordinances in the past. And it doesn’t stop there.
The Prime Minister could also amend the Federal Constitution without going through Parliament and without a two-thirds majority. He could amend Article 55(1) to remove the requirement for Parliament to convene within six months between sittings. He could even amend Article 55(3) to extend the parliament’s lifespan of five years, indefinitely.
Theoretically, we may not have another parliamentary sitting until the Prime Minister decides otherwise.
Without our representatives in Parliament, there will be no check and balance on the executive and no accountability. Imagine this. During the spread of a highly infectious disease, when greater accountability and transparency is very much needed from the government, we are suddenly at risk of having none at all.
Make no mistake, our democracy is at stake here.
We must question. We must challenge. We must resist.