Friday, February 26, 2021

Poor response prompts last-minute drive for more groups to join suit against emergency

Bersih and Abim are among those supporting the legal action to declare the emergency null and void.

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Lukewarm response from NGOs to a suit challenging the Covid-19 emergency proclamation has forced several activists to launch a campaign, seeking more litigants to take the government to court, MalaysiaNow has learnt.

The suit, claiming Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government had given “the wrong advice” to the Agong, is seeking to declare the emergency null and void.

So far, a source said only “four or five” groups have decided to back the suit, including Bersih 2.0, Suaram and the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim), an organisation founded by Anwar Ibrahim.

The PKR leader has been at the forefront of efforts to oppose the emergency proclamation, saying he has prepared a legal team to take the government to court.

But yesterday, he denied he was out to challenge the emergency declaration, saying he wanted the Agong to call for parliamentary sittings throughout the emergency period.

It is believed that more than two dozen NGOs have been urged to respond by today on whether they would like to be a party to the suit seeking to nullify the Agong’s emergency proclamation.

Critics of the emergency declaration have said that the movement control order is enough to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen four-figure daily infections, pushing the death toll to more than 600 following a fierce spike after the Sabah election in September.

Warnings by health officials of more election-related virus infections prompted the government to seek localised emergencies in several constituencies made vacant by their representatives’ deaths.

But with looming threats of nationwide snap polls following the plan by a group of Umno MPs to get the party to revoke its support for the government, the emergency was seen as the last step to avert a pandemic-season general election.

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