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Malaysia’s Mahathir criticizes state of emergency

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published January 18,2021

Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad on Monday criticized the imposition of emergency in the country, saying the government has lost its right to rule.

"Emergency powers are not necessary for dealing with the pandemic. The government has ample power and Malaysians have obeyed whatever orders or directives were issued by the government in dealing with COVID-19," Mahathir said on his official blog.

Last week, at the request of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Malaysia's King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah declared a state of emergency, the first in 50 years, to stem the spread of coronavirus. It could last until Aug. 1 unless cases are brought under control earlier.

The parliament is suspended, whereas political activity and elections are not allowed. It also grants the state new powers.

Muhyiddin, who enjoys a thin majority, came to power in March last year. Critics say the new measures allow him to cling to power.

"The proclamation of a state of emergency removes the last vestige of democratic rights of the people," said Mahathir, who resigned as premier last year.

"This government is not the government they [people] elected. It is a backdoor government," Mahathir said. "This government has now lost its majority and therefore the right to rule."

The former prime minister said that through the proclamation, a minority government has gained "absolute power to rule."

"What is there that the prime minister with his absolute power can do to solve this health crisis? The best brains in the world are finding it difficult to stem the numbers of new cases. Can the prime minister with his power to jail people for up to 10 years and impose a fine of five million Ringgit reduce the number of cases," he asked.

Mahathir said the emergency has "given tremendous powers" to the government, and "effectively rule of law has been abolished."

With 3,306 new cases, the total caseload in Malaysia has risen to 161,740, and 605 related deaths.