According to a MalaysiaKini report, Dato’ Ambiga, the chairperson of BERSIH, YB Khairy Jamaluddin, the UMNO Youth Chief and Dato’ Ibrahim Ali, the Perkasa war general, have all been summoned to Bukit Aman by the police. So the Home Minister said.
On the same day, I read a Malaysian Insider report that three youths are suing the police for placing them under detention without trial under the Emergency Ordinance 1969 for allegedly stealing motorcycles.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Malaysia, and please do not unfasten your seatbelts.
For the uninitiated, allow me to put on record that Malaysia (including when we were Tanah Melayu) has seen 5 state of emergencies altogether. The 1st time was in 1948 when the communist insurgency resulted in 11000 people being killed.
The 2nd time was in 1964 during the Indonesian confrontation.
The 3rd time was in 1966. This was limited to Sarawak following the dismissal of the Ketua Menteri.
The 4th time was in 1969 following the 13th May incident.
Lastly, it was in 1977, which was limited to the state of Kelantan to deal with the political crisis there.
The last 4 emergencies have not been lifted till today.
What is so frightening about state of emergencies, you may ask.
This is the most frightening. Article 150, Clause 6 of the Federal Constitution allows the Parliament to pass any law and His Majesty the King to promulgate any ordinance during state of emergencies and those laws and ordinances will be valid even if they are repugnant or inconsistent with any of the provisions of the Federal Constitution.
In other words, during an emergency, any kind of law would be valid. Which means, the Federal Constitution may be ignored, side-stepped or just plain torn, shredded and burned. Which finally mean, you and I, citizen of Malaysia, do not have any kind of recognisable right during an emergency.
Various emergency regulations have been promulgated and used since 1969. These regulations give wide and really draconian powers to the police and government. The followings are just some examples.
Firstly, a person may be detained without trial and banished to a certain area without trial.
Secondly, In the EMERGENCY (ESSENTIAL POWERS) ORDINANCE, 1969(Ordinance 1 and Ordinance 2) ESSENTIAL (DISPOSAL OF DEAD BODIES AND DISPENSATION OF INQUESTS AND DEATH INQUIRIES) REGULATIONS, 1969 for example, regulation 3 ( b ) provides as follows:
“where a Magistrate or a Coroner responsible for holding a death inquiry or inquest on the body of any person is satisfied that such person has been killed as a result of operations for the purpose of suppressing disturbances by the Police or the Malaysian Armed Forces or as a result of injuries caused by
disturbances, the Magistrate or the Coroner, as the case may be, may dispense with the holding of a death inquiry or inquest on the body of such person.”
That would of course mean no police killing could come under scrutiny during an emergency.
Thirdly, the Home Minister can ban any kind of printing material which he deems it as prejudicial to public order. He can even open all postal packages, read all telegrams, articles and printed matters and detain those material under the ESSENTIAL (NEWSPAPERS AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS) REGULATIONS, 1969.
Fourthly (hold on really tight to your seats for this one), under the ESSENTIAL (PROHIBITION OF ACTIVITIES RELATING TO ELECTIONS)
REGULATIONS, 1969, elections may be suspended, during which suspension, regulation 2 provides:
“Notwithstanding any written law to the contrary. for so long as the elections are suspended all activities relating to elections are hereby prohibited.”
Fifthly, there is such a thing called the ESCAR, namely, the Emergency and Security Cases Regulations which, among others:
- permits the Attorney General to choose whichever Court he likes to try a security case. The Court may sit in any place or state regardless of where the alleged offence took place.
- if the Court is satisfied that a witness is afraid to testify, the witness can testify in a manner that he or she cannot be seen or heard by the Counsel of the accused! Now, tell me, how the hell is the accused going to defend himself against such witness?
- hearsay evidence may be tendered and admitted by Court.
The above are but examples of the extreme powers that the State has during emergencies. Powers such as these are open to abuse and there is no mechanism to check this abuse. These regulations are not challengeable in any Courts of Law. Actions taken by the State under those emergency regulations are also not usually challengeable in any Courts of Law.
Nobody in their sane mind would say that Malaysia, in reality, is in a state of emergency now. Chaos, maybe. In a state of dream, perhaps. State of denial, obviously. State of incorrigible stupor, maybe too. But emergency? Excuse me.
The only reason why these proclamations of emergencies have not been lifted is because the government is desirous of maintaining all these draconian laws and regulations.
These regulations provide shortcuts to the likes of the police. Why bother investigate a case thoroughly when they can detain any person without trial and banish them to a certain district?
If it was true that the 3 youths have been stealing motorcycles, the obvious right thing to do in any civilised society is to have them produced before the Court and charged.
An obvious case of abuse of emergency ordinance is the case of the Kelantan’s claim for the petroleum royalty. The case for the government rests on the definition of state’s waters as defined in Section 4 (2) of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 1969, which provides that a state's waters is only within three nautical miles from its shores. (source: this article).
That is a classic abuse of emergency laws. How can an economic claim be settled by reference to a rule which is made to cater for a state of emergency?
The continuous existence of states of emergencies in Malaysia is repugnant to the notion that Malaysia is inching towards a the status of a developed state; that we are a liberal and tolerant society;that we are a country practising democracy with a vibrant society able to engage in a public and civil discourse over whatever issues which are important for nation building.
The police force is a law unto themselves in Malaysia. This has to stop immediately. Lest Malaysia would be viewed dimly by the international community. We are not a police state, yet. But we surely are displaying obvious symptoms of one.
The latest episode involving the summoning of Dato’ Ambiga nd YB KJ* is but an example of the police force acting at their whim and fancy. These two persons have not committed any offence. Nor have they, under the law, attempted to commit any offence. What power does the police force have to summon them to Bukit Aman? Why are they being summoned? What if they did not appear in Bukit Aman? What would the police do?
*as for Ibrahim Ali, there is obviously a reason, or even several reasons, to summon him.