Media statement by Pakatan Harapan Committee For Laws on 1 June 2021:
The Pakatan Harapan Committee for Laws which was formed on 24th May 2021 acknowledges that the Covid-19 pandemic requires urgent and drastic measures to be undertaken, but is of the view that such measures ought not be made an excuse to override the rule of law and fundamental rights guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.
In light of this, the Committee will undertake a close scrutiny of the enactments, regulations, orders and directives enacted under the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021, and Emergency (Essential Powers) (No. 2) Ordinance 2021 and the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.
Such monitoring and scrutiny is important in view of the fact that the normal check and balance by Parliament of the executive is currently suspended due to the prorogation of Parliament under the said Ordinance.
The Committee is of the opinion that the rule of law must apply even during the time of a public health emergency, as much as it applies to the use of executive power in ordinary times.
The principles which form the foundation of the rule of law, amongst others, legality, legal certainty, accountability, access to justice, equality before the law, proportionality and reasonableness apply equally to the measures taken by the executive to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Committee is particularly concerned with the following:
- The constantly changing conditions and different SOPs that are issued from time to time which cause confusion and are not uniformly enforced against everyone;
- Very heavy punishments for violation of the said SOPs in the form of substantial fines from RM10,000 for individuals to RM50,000 for corporations and imprisonment which is totally disproportionate to the objectives and nature of the said SOPs; and
- The recent warnings in Hotspot Identification by Dynamic Engagement (HIDE) are unfair and unreasonable to the owners of businesses of the premises and malls.
The measures taken by the PN government have raised questions as to their legality, particularly those that are bad for uncertainty and those that depend on the mere discretion of the police or health officers for enforcement.
Due to the serious consequences for non-compliance of the said SOPs and directives, the Committee calls on the Government to review the said SOPs and conditions to ensure that they comply with the rule of law and the legal requirement of certainty, which must be easily accessible to the public, intelligible, clear and fair.
Clear and concise SOPs which are uniformly enforced are essential and the Committee will strive to ensure that the same is achieved, particularly in view of the recent announcement of a nationwide total lockdown.
Finally, the Committee expresses deep concern over the rising number of death in custody cases in the country and the slow responses to the same by the Attorney General and Inspector General of Police.
The recent cases of Surendren Shanker, Sivabalan Subramaniam and A. Ganapathy who died while in custody in the span of less than two months have raised legitimate questions as to whether there was any foul play involved. As such, the Committee will endeavor to press the relevant authorities on the progress of investigations into same and ensure transparency in the said investigation processes.
‘RESTORING OUR COUNTRY, RESTORING DEMOCRACY’
Ramkarpal Singh A/L Karpal Singh
MP for Bukit Gelugor
Mohamed Hanipa Maidin
MP for Sepang
William Leong Jee Keen
MP for Selayang