End the Emergency now!

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Letter to the Editor (Free Malaysia Today (FMT):  From Ashraf Abdullah

‘The Emergency has failed. And that is a fact’

Therefore, it has to be revoked immediately. To allow a failed process to continue will be senseless, immoral even. A dereliction of duty.

When the Emergency was first sought, the government’s excuse was that it will help expedite efforts to end the Covid-19 pandemic. Although not many, some people believed it.

However, since then, have things improved? Far from it. In fact, it became so bad that it almost crippled our healthcare system.

When the Emergency was proclaimed on Jan 12, Malaysia had 28,554 active coronavirus cases and 555 deaths. When this article was being written, the number of active cases stood at 73,324 with 3,908 deaths. The number of active cases more than doubled and deaths increased by seven times.

ICUs at government hospitals are filled to the brim. government resources are stretched to breaking points. Doctors, nurses and other hospital staff have no rest.

We have reached the stage when young medical officers have to make the call on who lives and who dies. It cannot be happening in Malaysia. We are an advanced developing nation. Well, at least we were, until last year.

Despite appeals after appeals for a full lockdown by the various parties, the government, with full control under the Emergency Order, stood by and allowed things to be.

Only after the number of daily cases exceeded 9,000, did the government impose a lockdown. By then, the costs of healthcare and damage control had skyrocketed. And resources hit their limits. Frontliners were simply exhausted.

The government could have saved many lives if a full lockdown was imposed when the number of cases was just 2,000. You cannot quantify human lives with dollars and cents.

Try telling a widow who lost her husband to Covid-19 or a child orphaned by the dreadful disease that you needed to keep the factories open.

So in what way did the Emergency help?

It is hoped that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, after his meeting with his fellow Rulers on Wednesday will decide to end the Emergency and order Parliament to re-convene immediately.

It is paramount that Parliament reconvenes. It is duty-bound to scrutinise government actions. Scrutiny is not confined to MPs asking the government questions during question time.

It is about the various Parliamentary committees reconvening to audit the government. One example of this is the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The PAC is one of the selected committees under the Parliament which is responsible for ensuring accountability in the government’s financial operations.

Since January, the government has spent billions of ringgit to purchase vaccines (and billions more for the logistics and handling of the vaccines, according to science, technology and innovation minister Khairy Jamaluddin).

Yet, supply seems to be very slow and a vast majority of eligible Malaysians have not been vaccinated.

Under the Emergency, ordinances introduced by the government effectively become laws. It is dangerous and it is autocratic.

It has done so for the past six months. Enough is enough.

Malaysians could have accepted the Emergency if it had produced results. But in actual fact, it made things even worse. So how is the government, when questioned by their majesties and their royal highnesses, going to argue in favour of keeping the Emergency or even extend it?

As the Covid-19 pandemic worsened during the Emergency period, the government should not be given the right to seek an extension.

It will be akin to adding salt to injury on those who lost their loved ones to Covid-19 and those who contracted it and are now suffering its prolonged after-effects.

When a process, in this case the Emergency, fails, you need to throw it out of the window. To allow a failed process to continue will be nonsensical and utterly ridiculous.

The Emergency should be revoked immediately to allow the Dewan Rakyat and the Dewan Negara to reconvene. Most Malaysians want their elected representatives back in Parliament.

Let us not forgo our democracy simply because a few politicians want to avoid a no-confidence vote in Parliament. Man up for heaven’s sakes.

 

Ashraf Abdullah is the former group managing editor (News and Current Affairs), Media Prima TV Networks.

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT and Melaka Hari Ini (MHI)

 

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