Legislature to function until emergency lifted

Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar

KUCHING: The Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) will continue to function until the emergency is lifted although its tenure ends on June 6.

Veteran lawyer Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said that when the Yang di-Pertuan Agong proclaimed the emergency on January 11, 2021, the term of the State Assembly was also suspended as of Jan 11 as provided under Section 1(b) of the Emergency Ordinance which stated that, “This Ordinance is deemed to have come into operation on January 11, 2021.”

“Consequently from that time on, the term of Sarawak DUN was also suspended, as if the time never moved. Therefore, the time during which the emergency remains in force could not be counted as part of the five year term of the DUN,” he told New Sarawak Tribune today.

He explained that under Section 13(a) of Emergency Ordinance, it is stated that for as long as the emergency is in force, the provisions in relation to an election in the State Assembly in the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution (FC), Constitution of any State and any State law shall have no effect; and under Section 13(b) of the same ordinance, it stated that an election for the State Assembly shall be held on a date as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong thinks appropriate after consultation with the respective ruler or the Yang di- Pertua Negeri.

“By virtue of this section, the provision of the State Constitution and any state law with respect to election are also suspended. Therefore, there is no automatic dissolution as provided under the Sarawak Constitution and there is no need to have an election,” he said.

He added that as such the present state government is legitimately still in power and the executive and legislative powers of the Chief Minister and his Cabinet ministers are given under Section 11(b) of the Emergency Ordinance.

Wan Junaidi noted that Section 11(c) of the same ordinance stated that, ‘the legislative functions to make subsidiary legislation under Federal law and State laws shall continue to be exercised by the persons authorised by such laws’.

From the foregoing provisions, he said that it was obvious that the Chief Minister and his Cabinet are still given the full authority to govern the state throughout the period of emergency even beyond what was considered to be the end of the term on June 6.

“The current emergency is different for Sarawak, there is not going to be an automatic dissolution on June 6, and since the Agong said the state government can function as usual, therefore, the Agong is not going to use his power under Section 15(1)(b) of the Emergency Ordinance to dissolve the DUN.

“Accordingly, the Sarawak Cabinet is not, I repeat is not a caretaker government like what happened in 1969 to 1970, but the Cabinet of legitimately elected representatives subsisting under section 11(b) of the Emergency Ordinance.

“It is up to the King to extend or not to extend the emergency beyond Aug 1, taking into consideration the advice of the Independent Committee formed under Section 2(1) of the Emergency Ordinance and the Agong has to abide by the advice of the Cabinet under Article 40(1) and Article 40(1A) of the Federal Constitution,” he said.

The Santubong MP, therefore, said the Sarawak government is to continue its duties and responsibilities as usual and with the full power and authority to govern the state.

“There is no change and diminish in power and authority under the law. As the DUN is not dissolved on June 7, 2021, the elected assemblypersons are entitled to all their remuneration and perks under the Members of the Administration and Members of the DUN (Remunerations, Pension, and Gratuities) Ordinance 2013 as usual,” he said.

On the question of when is the right time to hold the 12th State Election, Wan Junaidi said, “I can understand that both the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government and the people are keen to seek a new mandate, but the situation is just not right.”