Let me just start this posting off with a few numbers to remind us of where we are right now.
WHERE WE ARE
Today is 3rd August 2021, Day 504 since leaving the Old Norm. It has been 228 days since we had seen ZERO deaths due to covid-19 in a day. Never mind the one million plus accumulated number of recorded cases since the pandemic hit our shores on 25 January 2020. We look at the harder numbers: with today’s 17,105 new cases, we have 203,664 people undergoing treatment or quarantine for being COVID-19 positive. 9,598 have died. 3,854 of those (40.15 percent) died in the month of July 2021 alone. We have lost 219 in the first three days of August 2021. In the same corresponding period in July 2021, our worst month, the first three days saw 107 deaths, less than half that of August 2021’s. And today, 1,066 are being treated in ICU wards nationwide, 537 in need of breathing assistance. That is 50.4 percent of those in ICU wards. Things do not look like they are going to get any better.
The government had worked very well during the second wave of the pandemic in Malaysia. We had only 337 cases recorded in July 2020 from a peak of 3,236 cases in April. Only two deaths were recorded in the month of August. Politics spoiled the whole effort with the Sabah state elections. Ministry of Health frontliners were fighting raging wildfires and still are. The first in a series of strategems in fighting wildfires should be the establishment of control lines: natural or man-made boundaries employed by firefighters to contain wildfires. That had worked to contain the spread during the second wave (March 2020-August 2020), but it was the politicians that had let us down (Sabah state elections). Things spiralled downwards from then on.
It was hoped that the Proclamation of Emergency sought by the government from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong would have provided both the frontliners as well as the rakyat with the same boundaries, but that never happened. From 12 January 2021 through July 2021, thousands of private vehicles were still allowed to cross state borders, giving rise to clusters outside the Greater Klang Valley. By the time the government reacted and put a stop to those abusing MITI letters to go back for both the Hari Raya, thousands were infected. It is unfortunate that it is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s image that has to absorb the flak.
The only good things to have hatched from the Emergency were the ability of the government to procure medical equipment including the various types of vaccines without having to go though the debates in Parliament. The Opposition has not been able to contribute anything worthy of mention, other than its hunger to wrestle back power from the PN government. That is all the interest that it has shown thus far, just as UMNO, unable to swallow its pride after the trashing it received three years ago, is not in favour of being led by a smaller party
Statutory Declarations and press statements do not determine who gets to govern. The only way is through a vote on a motion of no confidence against the sitting Prime Minister in Parliament. That can be determined when Parliament assembles again. The worry is that if the Prime Minister loses support and his government imminently resigns, this vicious cycle of struggle for power will not end here. We have not yet achieve herd immunity to safely call for elections.
If the Prime Minister loses support and there is no one clear candidate with enough support to stymie an opposition to the formation of the candidate’s government, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has a way out as per Article 150 (1) of the Federal Constitution, where only His Majesty has the right to proclaim an Emergency if His Majesty is satisfied that ‘a grave emergency exists whereby the security, or the economic life, or public order in the federation or any part thereof is threatened.’
A MAGERAN headed by a Director of Operations and supported by members chosen by His Majesty could administer and manage the country while politicians observe a cooling-off period. They can be professionals, economists, ex-military, ex-police as well as ex-judges, while the civil service shall continue to be headed by the Chief Secretary to the Government.
If there is a need to amend the Federal Constitution to reinstate measures previously removed so that the Executive does not have too much power as it does now, this is the time to do so. Only when things have stabilised will general elections be allowed to be held again to choose a civilian government. The mechanism of this MAGERAN and which parts of the Federal Constitution that need to be suspended, will have to be carefully thought out.
I find that the feeling on the ground is for such a council to come into existence. Everyone is now looking at a strong leadership by people who actually know how to handle the situation. We can take a cue from this call for the fight against COVID-19 to be given to the Army to handle. We cannot go on like this, locked within the four walls of our homes with our savings dwindling very fast, while our frontliners bathe in their sweat on a daily basis without an end in sight, and our politicians fight each other for power without giving so much as a hoot to the perils being faced daily by the people.
Someone asked me if it would be constitutionally legal for such a thing to be done. It has been done before. It worked then. And it is provided for by the Federal Constitution. How unconstitutional can that be?
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