State vs federal impasse over conditional MCO

From Focus Malaysia

THE federal government has relaxed the Movement Control Order, essentially to allow businesses to operate, subject to certain conditions. This was done through fresh regulations (No 5) under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988. The prohibition for the conduct of certain business activities was removed.

Several state governments have issued their own orders. The effect is to prohibit certain activities that have been allowed under the federal regulations (No 5).

This brings into sharp focus the issue of whether the state governments can issue such orders.

Under the Federal Constitution (Article 81), state governments are obliged to make sure that states comply with federal law, and that their action does “not impede or prejudice” the federal government’s authority.

In short, they must comply with regulations as these are part of federal law, or it will be a violation of the state’s constitutional obligation.

So, any abridgement of the federal law’s reach, or orders that are inconsistent with it, will constitute as non-compliance. Read more

Pushing back boat carrying refugees and scurrilous attack wrong – Statement dd 4/28/2020

On 16 April 2020, the Malaysian Navy pushed back to sea a boat carrying Rohingyas. In violation of international law obligations to provide access to asylum seekers. In January this year, the International Court of Justice ruled that the Rohingyas were “extremely vulnerable” to military violence; and faced the threat of genocide. Sending them back to a territory where they would be at risk of such dire human rights violations clearly falls afoul of general international human rights as well as customary international law.pdf

Predictably, there has been a rising chorus of protest against the government’s action. Unfortunately, there have also been vicious attacks against those who have expressed concern. We refer in particular to one such statement by the Ambassador to Malaysia of The European Rohingya Council Tengku Emma Zuriana Bt Tengku Azmi who expressed her organisation’s grave disquiet.

Regretfully, instead of a civil and balanced reasoned discussion or response, her statement was visited upon by a sustained barrage of vitriolic abuse. Which transcended into personal, aggressive, racist and sexist comments. It even incited criminal acts of rape and physical violence against her person. Read more

Pushing back boat carrying refugees and scurrilous attack wrong – Statement dd 4/28/2020

On 21 April 2020 , the Ambassador to Malaysia of The European Rohingya Council Tengku Emma Zuriana Bt Tengku Azmi publicly expressed her organisation’s grave disquiet by the Malaysian Navy’s earlier act to push back to sea a boat carrying Rohingyas. This, she justifiably stressed, violated international law obligations to provide access to asylum seekers. Sending them back to a territory where they would be at risk of persecution or serious human rights violations also fell afoul of general international human rights as well as customary international law.

Regretfully, instead of a civil and balanced reasoned discussion or response, her statement was visited upon by a sustained barrage of vitriolic abuse. Which transcended into personal, aggressive, racist and sexist comments. It even incited criminal acts of rape and physical violence against her person.

These vicious attacks go well beyond a considered discussion of the issue. They incite public disorder and undermine morality. This falls foul of the freedom of speech guaranteed by Article 10(2) of the Federal Constitution. Read more

Parliamentary Session Limited to its Mere Opening is Wrong – Statement dd 4/27/2020

HAKAM notes with concern the Prime Minister’s decision to convene a mere 1- day sitting on 18th May 2020. We also understand that there will not be room for debates on 18th May 2020 as the schedule only accommodates the Royal Address and the first reading of several Government Bills.pdf

The Constitution requires Parliament to be summoned from time to time and in any event within 6 months of the last sitting. This strikes a balance between allowing the government to do things, and holding them to account. So that the peoples’ representatives can scrutinise government actions, ask questions, propose alternatives and force them to reveal information and justify their actions. This will inspire public confidence in any measures taken by the
government.

Summoning Parliament just to allow for its opening by the King without more hence subverts this critical Parliamentary role. It fulfils the letter but not the substance of the Constitutional requirement. Its validity is clearly questionable. Read more

The need for a Comprehensive Policy for Migrant Workers during the Covid 19 Pandemic – Statement dd 4/24/2020

HAKAM Media Statement

The need for a Comprehensive Policy for Migrant Workers during the Covid 19 Pandemic

There are at present 2 million documented migrant workers in Malaysia. The number of undocumented migrant workers are estimated to be 1.5 million to 4 million. [1]

Migrant Workers are one of the most vulnerable groups that are disproportionately affected by the Covid 19 Pandemic. Most of them have been left without employment, social and health security. pdf

The lack of decent housing and accommodation prevents the implementation of proactive measures which could further trigger the spread of the virus.

There are at present many barriers facing migrant workers to access the healthcare facilities. These barriers include access, costs, language, fear of arrest and detention. Read more

Implications of a 1-Day Parliament Sitting – HAKAM Yoth Statement

HAKAM Youth expresses concern over the convening of a 1-Day Parliament Sitting on 18 May 2020, as announced by the Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on 17 April 2020. 

As Article 55(1) of our Constitution provides, the Prime Minister may advise the YDPA to postpone the Parliament, provided that it is not to a date more than six months after the last sitting. The act of announcing the 1-Day Parliament Sitting on 18 May has fulfilled the constitutional requirement to a degree of pedantic compliance so as to avoid being seen as proroguing the Parliament.

In the face of a global pandemic, all branches of government must come together in overcoming the aftermath with the Judiciary taking a lead on hearing matters online, a historic first. The newly-formed Cabinet, however, invoked the Prevention And Control Of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and declared a Movement Control Order (MCO) from 18 March 2020. Although the MCO has been effective in its purpose of flattening the curve, the way forward as a nation—such as mass randomised testing or further economic stimulus—remains largely unclear.  Read more