King has the power to declare emergency

Muara Tuang assemblyman Datuk Idris Buang.

KUCHING: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong has power under the Federal Constitution to declare emergency in Sarawak if the local Covid-19 pandemic situation warrants it, said Muara Tuang assemblyman Datuk Idris Buang.

He said it would be similar to the parliamentary constituency of Bukit Sapi in Sabah where a by-election scheduled for Dec 5 had been cancelled due to an emergency declared on Wednesday.

“The Federal Constitution supersedes the State Constitution in any event of any conflicting terms,” he said today, when commenting on  the emergency declaration.

Idris said, however, a point for consideration by His Majesty is that it would be difficult and impracticable to declare emergency on just a part or parts of the state involving some constituencies while leaving other parts or constituencies not affected.

“Movement of the electorates and managing them would be very difficult indeed.

“Therefore, should there be any emergency it has to be an all-encompassing one, enveloping the whole of Sarawak thus deferring the State election sine die,” he said.

Idris said, the lives and safety of the people is of paramount importance, as has been stressed by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

“It also means that all provisions regarding election under our State and Federal Constitutions would be ‘suspended’ for that period of emergency until it is lifted,” he said.

On Wednesday, Comptroller of the Royal Household of Istana Negara Datuk Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was concerned about the people’s safety following the sharp rise in cases after the Sabah state election on September 26.

“His Majesty believed it was necessary to cancel the by-election and postpone it to another date,” he said.

Ahmad Fadil said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong also took into account the number of registered voters living outside Batu Sapi who would have to return to cast their votes.