Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. 

– HL Mencken, American journalist

Wake up one morning and you find that there are no more unproductive, bickering and posturing MPs in Parliament. In fact, no more Parliament!

Would that not be wonderful?  But then how will the nation be run?

Well, that is what the latest political intrigue in Malaysia was all about.

Formally, it all began when a special cabinet meeting was held on October 23 2020 to deliberate on a plan to declare a state of emergency in Malaysia.

It is speculated that this would have involved the suspension of Parliament and any upcoming elections during the emergency period.

Subsequently, on October 24, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had a royal audience with the King to seek his consent to the cabinet’s proposals.

On October 25, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah convened a special meeting with the Malay Rulers to seek their opinion before making a decision.

Later on the evening of October 25, much to the delight of the majority to democracy-loving Malaysians the King rejected the request, albeit in the most diplomatic way possible.

Before going any further, what is a proclamation of emergency?

Generally, it is a situation whereby the government of the day believes that it is unable to govern the nation via the usual administrative mechanisms due to unstable security, economic and public order issues.

So, what triggered the request by the PM?

Was it due to the possibility of Datuk Seri Anwar gaining the support of the majority of the elected MPs and therefore leading to the possibility of him forming a new government?

Or was it because of the fear of losing a vote in Parliament to approve the 2021 Budget next month?

Or was it really due to the PM’s reason — to manage the rapid spread of the Covid-19?

Take your pick — or was it for all of the above reasons?

Here it is important to know about some of the basic histories of previous declarations of emergencies in Malaysia. We have had four emergencies since 1963.

The first being the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation when Act No. 30 of 1964, Emergency (Essential Powers) Act was proclaimed on September 3 1964, with the royal assent on September 17 1964.

This was a legitimate emergency as Indonesia had launched a series of attacks on Malaysian territory.

The second being the Sarawak constitutional crisis that took place from 1965 to 1966 relating to the removal of Stephen Kalong Ningkan as its chief minister. He was ousted and was replaced by Tawi Sli as the new chief minister.

This was done through the Emergency (Federal Constitution and the Constitution of Sarawak) Act.

Some would not define this as a real emergency as up to this day, many would interpret it as an act resulting from interference by the federal government.

The May 13, 1969 incident after the 1969 general election led to the third state of emergency nationwide. This was obviously necessary to maintain law and order.

By the way Sarawakians, it is under this proclamation that we lost our oil, gas and sea territorial rights. An issue totally unrelated to the emergency.

It is also important to note for future reference that this proclamation of emergency and the Emergency Ordinance 1969 was only revoked in 2013, after 44 years.

The 1977 Kelantan Emergency was declared on November 8 1977 after parliament passed The Emergency Powers (Kelantan) Act 1977 giving the federal government the power to govern the state.

This emergency was declared on November 8, 1977 and related to the refusal of Menteri Besar Mohamad Nasir to resign following dissatisfaction within his own party, PAS.

While proclamations of emergencies do have their place to protect a nation and society, they can easily be abused, as can be seen when Sarawak lost its oil, gas and sea resources.

Come back to the current scenario, many Malaysia breathed a sigh of relief after the King’s wise decision to reject the request for emergency rule which will most likely not stop the political intrigue to hold on to power despite appeals from many quarters.

The desire to hold on to power by all means possible can indeed be great.

A career in politics, it is said, is like climbing a greasy pole. The higher you climb the greater the fear of a quick long slide down, especially into oblivion.

So perhaps it is understandable (but not acceptable) why some want to cling on to power by discarding democracy.

Kudos to our King for saving the day and upholding democracy (no matter how flawed occasionally).

Long live the King!

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.