Will Putrajaya use surge in Covid-19 cases to extend emergency?

Two opposition figures have warned that the government may use the surge in Covid-19 numbers to extend the emergency beyond August and maintain the suspension of Parliament.

(FMT) – Klang MP Charles Santiago of DAP said the government might take the opportunity to push a new parliamentary sitting to the end of the year “or even next year”, and PKR deputy information chief G Manivannan said there was an urgent need to tighten standard operating procedures (SOPs).

They also criticised Putrajaya’s decision to allow university students to return to their hometowns for Hari Raya festivities, saying this might add to the surge in the number of Covid-19 infections.

“They may take home the virus or bring it back with them to their universities,” Santiago said.

The government might then say the fight against Covid-19 was not over and might extend the emergency, he said.

“This means the 2022 federal budget and the 12th Malaysia Plan may not be debated.”

Manivannan pointed to statements by medical experts about the likelihood of infection numbers going up if students were to travel to their home states.

“By right, when the numbers are up, the government should be tightening the SOPs,” he said.

He added that the public could expect the emergency to be prolonged.

Yesterday, Malaysia recorded 3,332 Covid-19 cases. Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah warned weeks ago that weak compliance with SOPs might see infections hitting 5,000 by the end of May.

Civil rights lawyer Fahri Azzat said he hoped Putrajaya would not take advantage of the situation to extend the emergency.

He agreed with Santiago and Manivannan that Covid-19 cases might rise with students going home and that this would give the government an excuse to extend the emergency.

He said Putrajaya should not make “short-sighted decisions” to quell public anger over its double standards in enforcing SOPs.

He noted the anger expressed on social media after celebrity Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor and her family were allowed to travel to Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur.