Distinguish between proclamation and ordinance

Prof Datuk Shad Saleem Faruqi

KUCHING: Constitutional law expert Prof Datuk Shad Saleem Faruqi said the common perception that proclamation of emergency will suspend laws, institutions or procedures is not necessarily true.

“Emergency proclamation does not automatically suspend any laws or institution or procedures, it only opens the gates to the enactment of emergency laws.

“One must distinguish between Emergency proclamation which is a declaration and an Emergency ordinance which provides the law.

“A proclamation is a two or three paragraph statement saying the country is under a state of Emergency, if you want to discuss propriety and justice, you must look the at ordinance,” he said.

He said this during an online talk hosted by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) 2.0 recently.

Shad said Article 150(1) of the Federal Constitution refers, among others, to the threat to security and economic life.

“In the case of former Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Stephen Kalong Ningkan vs the Government of Malaysia in 1968, it was held that the law referred to war, famine, earthquake, flood, epidemic and the collapse of civil government.

“In my view, the Covid-19 pandemic qualifies as an emergency to economic life as is epidemic and the collapse of civil government. In the last two years, eight governments in Malaysia have collapsed.

“These are the federal government led by former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, two state governments in Sabah, two in Perak, Johor, Negeri Sembilan and Melaka,” he said.

Shad said the main advantage of an Emergency is that it will ensure some political stability with no federal or state elections being held.

“Fortunately, this Emergency has a sunset clause or a time limit and there is also a special committee to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. To some extent, this allows bipartisanship,” he said.