Sarawak based Save Rivers, six other NGOs file suit against Emergency declaration
February 3, 2021
KUCHING: Seven non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including Sarawak-based Save Rivers have filed a public interest suit in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, seeking court declarations on issues related to the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021.
The others are electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Center for Independent Journalism, Aliran, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall and Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia.
Fann signing the affidavit.
In an online press conference yesterday, they announced that the suit was filed to review Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s decision to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to approve the Emergency Ordinance that suspends parliamentary sittings.
“We would like the courts to declare if they (the prime minister and the government) have the power to review any attempt that circumvents constitutional provisions which require these instruments to be brought before Parliament first.
“In particular, we are seeking declarations on whether the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance; or Section 14 of the Ordinance, which suspends Parliament; and Article 150(8) of the Constitution, which ousts the jurisdiction of the courts, are unconstitutional,” Suaram’s executive director Sevan Doraisamy said.
The NGOs believe the government already has enough powers to handle the Covid-19 crisis and does not need to resort to suspending Parliament.
“The loss of such checks and balances in our parliamentary democracy would have long-term irrevocable impact that could ruin our country, as an unchecked government could turn draconian and kleptocratic,” Bersih chairman Thomas Fann said.
The application was filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday through Messrs AmerBON.
Counsel acting for the matter, Edmund Bon explained that they are not challenging the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s prerogative in the proclamation of emergency.
“We are seeking declarations that require the judiciary to interpret Article 150 of the Federal Constitution and to give its opinion. We are not challenging the powers conferred on the Agong to call for an emergency on the advice of the PM,” he said.
The NGOs are the latest group to seek answers concerning the state of emergency that was announced by Muhyiddin last month.
The others comprised opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Pakatan Harapan leaders — Amanah’s deputy president Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayob (who is also Pulai MP), Datuk Johari Abdul (Sungai Petani-PKR) and Professor Dr Abdul Aziz Bari (Tebing Tinggi assemblyman-DAP), and Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan, who is a stalwart supporter of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.