Malaysiakini Letter

Why is M'sia still in state of emergency?

N Surendran
Published:  |  Modified:

Today Syria's authoritarian ruler Bashar al Assad was forced to lift emergency rule which had been used to oppress and intimidate the people of Syria for almost 50 years. The battle for freedom in Syria is far from over, but this is a great new beginning for all freedom-loving Syrians. The tyrant has been pushed into a corner and it is only a matter of time before the people triumph. We in Malaysia stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Syria.

 

We understand their struggle, for we too are involved in a peaceful struggle to regain our political freedoms from the intolerant Barisan Nasional government.

In Malaysia several states of emergency continue unrepealed and with full legal force. It is time to repeal all Emergency proclamations and laws that are deliberately and maliciously being kept in existence by the government.

These emergency proclamations were made between 1964 and 1977, including the 1964 proclamation meant to deal with the confrontation with Indonesia and the 1969 proclamation made in the wake of the May 13 riots. Many oppressive ordinances promulgated under emergency powers remain operative and continue to be used by the authorities.

 

Emergency powers are invoked under Article 150 of the federal constitution. It is clear from a reading of Article 150 that a state of emergency can only be maintained where there is a real threat to the security or economic life of Malaysia.

A state of emergency maintained otherwise than in accordance with the preceding circumstances is nothing short of governmental tyranny; a tyranny which the BN government has had no compunction in continuing over the past 50 years. BN’s motive is simply to frighten the people into submission and thus prolong their unjust rule by unconstitutional means.

 

It is a great shame to our country that some of the worst North African and Middle East tyrannies have recently lifted their respective states of emergency, whereas several states of emergency continue in our country.

 The core and the strength of the BN's lawless abuse of the law to achieve their selfish ends resides in these emergency powers. We urge the BN government to put the people before their own narrow political agenda and to immediately lift all existing states of emergency in Malaysia.  

 

N Surendran is PKR vice president.

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