By Hakimie Amrie Hisamudin | Free Malaysia Today

The grouping of NGOs and human rights organisations say that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and the government have enough power as it is to handle the Covid-19 pandemic.

Several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and human rights groups have filed a public interest suit in the High Court today, seeking court declarations on issues related to the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021.

In a webinar organised by electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Center for Independent Journalism, Aliran, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia, and Save Rivers said the suit was filed to review Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s decision to advise the King to approve the Emergency Ordinance that suspends parliamentary sittings.

“We would like the courts to declare if they (the prime minister and the government) have the power to review any attempt that circumvents constitutional provisions which require these instruments to be brought before Parliament first.

“In particular, we are seeking declarations on whether the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance; or section 14 of the Ordinance, which suspends Parliament; and Article 150(8) of the Constitution, which ousts the jurisdiction of the courts, are unconstitutional,” Suaram’s executive director Sevan Doraisamy said.

The NGOs believe the government already has enough powers to handle the Covid-19 crisis and does not need to resort to suspending Parliament.

“The loss of such checks and balances in our parliamentary democracy would have long-term irrevocable impact that could ruin our country, as an unchecked government could turn draconian and kleptocratic,” Bersih chairman Thomas Fann said.

The application was filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today through Messrs AmerBON. Counsel acting for the matter is Edmund Bon.

Apart from the NGOs, several politicians have also filed similar suits against the government.

Recently, three elected representatives from Pakatan Harapan – Amanah’s Pulai MP Salahuddin Ayub, PKR’s Sungai Petani MP Johari Abdul and DAP’s Tebing Tinggi state assemblyman Abdul Aziz Bari have filed an application to initiate a judicial review on the government’s decision to seek an emergency proclamation and the suspension of parliamentary and state assembly sittings.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim also filed for leave to initiate a judicial review to challenge the government’s decision to seek an emergency proclamation.

He claimed that Muhyiddin’s advice to the King was against the law.

He also wants the court to compel Muhyiddin and the Perikatan Nasional government to tender advice to the King to revoke the 2021 Emergency Ordinance.

Former Umno leader Khairuddin Abu Hassan also filed a lawsuit against Muhyiddin, claiming that the latter does not have the legitimacy to advise the King to declare an emergency.

A Malay version of this article can be accessed here.