KUALA LUMPUR – The government has gazetted the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021, which was promulgated as a proactive measure to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia.
The 18-provision ordinance, which took effect on Jan 11, was gazetted yesterday after it was promulgated by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.
The ordinance, among others, states that an independent special committee will be established to advise the King on the continuing existence of the grave emergency threatening the security, economic life and public order of the federation arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, there were no details on the committee including its membership.
The ordinance also states that its provisions shall prevail in the event of any conflict or inconsistency with other written laws.
The ordinance also stipulates that additional powers will be accorded to the armed forces for so long as the emergency is in force, whereby it will have all the powers of the police as provided for under the Criminal Procedure Code (Act 593).
On executive and legislative powers, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet should continue to exercise the executive authority of the federation and make subsidiary legislation, while the Menteri Besar, Chief Ministers or State Executive Councils continue with their executive power and make legislation at the state level.
General elections, state elections and by-elections, as well as Parliament and State Legislative Assembly sittings will not be held as long as the emergency is in force.
To fight the COVID-19 pandemic, during the emergency, the King or any individual authorised by His Majesty can appoint a person to issue directions for treatment, immunisation, isolation, observation or surveillance under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342).
Additionally, the ordinance states that no legal action, prosecution or other proceedings shall be brought against the government or public officer for carrying out their duties to prevent and curb the COVID-19 transmission.
Under the ordinance, it is also an offence for any individual to defy the directives or violate the standard operating procedures stipulated to contain the pandemic.
The ordinance also allows the authorities to take temporary possession of any land, building or movable property or any resources including human resources, facilities and assets deemed necessary in the national interests, and anyone who defies such orders is liable to be fined up to RM5 million or jailed not more than 10 years, or both.
The details of the ordinance are available on the Attorney-General’s Chambers official portal at http://www.federalgazette.agc.gov.my.
On Jan 12, Al-Sultan Abdullah proclaimed an emergency that will be enforced until Aug 1, or earlier if the pandemic is contained and brought under control in the country.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in a special announcement on the same day, said that the Cabinet had advised His Majesty to proclaim the emergency throughout the country under Article 150(1) of the Federal Constitution, effective from Jan 11 to Aug 1, 2021.
Article 150 (1) provides that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may issue a Proclamation of Emergency if he is satisfied that a grave emergency exists and threatens the security, economic life and public order of the country.