Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah

State of emergency

BY TANIA LAM & SARAH HAFIZAH CHANDRA

KUCHING: Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah hopes that in the event a state of emergency is declared, it need not include Sarawak as the state is presently not recording a high number of daily Covid-19 cases.

“Until we see cases in triple digits everyday here, probably only then we can say the Covid-19 pandemic is out of control in Sarawak and we have to declare a state of emergency,” he said when met by reporters at the tripartite memorandum of understanding (MoU) signing ceremony for the development of Bintulu Hydrogen Plant at the Grand Margherita Hotel here today.

At that time, he said he had heard of the special Federal Cabinet sitting where there had been a discussion on declaring a state of emergency.

“I am not too sure and I do not want to speculate; I only heard about this and that a state of emergency may be declared, but I do hope that in the event this is declared, it need not have to reach Sarawak,” he said.

He opined that a state of emergency should only be imposed in certain circumstances when there is a breakdown in the system, such as war or major disasters, but added he was unsure if the current situation had achieved a level at which a state of emergency can be declared. 

“But it is up to the federal government and they have to have a good reason,” he said.

Abdul Karim said if a state of emergency was imposed, it could be just in West Malaysia, a West Malaysian state, or just Sabah — “It may not have to be all over.”

He pointed out that previously, there had been states of emergency declared in Kelantan, Sarawak, and in certain locations during the racial riots of 1969.

“Once a state of emergency is declared, there will be a team led by a committee to manage it,” he said.

He said that if a state of emergency was imposed nationwide, everything would be suspended, including the State Assembly and the Malaysian Parliament. He added that it was only after the uplifting of the state of emergency that the State or Federal Cabinets could proceed.

When asked if the state government will hold its election in the event that a blanket state of emergency is declared, he said it would depend.

“It can be a conditional emergency whereby certain things can still be done, such as elections, but we do not know what kind of emergency this may be,” he said.

At the same time, Abdul Karim said a state of emergency should not be declared to address a political situation.

“It should not be done to stop the opposition as we should have an open outlook. I do not think that fear of a no-confidence vote should be one of the grounds on which a state of emergency is declared,” he opined.