Irrelevant laws still in place
Teoh El Sen | April 1, 2011

Nazri tells Parliament the 1966 and 1977 emergency proclamations are no longer needed, but is silent about whether the government will repeal them.

PETALING JAYA: The Attorney-General has told the government that the 1966 and 1977 emergency declarations have lost their relevance, according to Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.

The two laws should be revoked, he told Parliament in a written response to Nurul Izzah Anwar (PKR-Lembah Pantai), who asked whether the prime minister would agree to the immediate repeal of all declarations of emergency under his transformation plan.

However, Nazri did not say whether the Najib administration would act on the Attorney-General’s advice.

The 1966 proclamation of emergency is applicable only in Sarawak and the 1977 proclamation only in Kelantan.

There is another proclamation, made in 1969 to be effective nationwide. Nazri said the government felt it should be maintained.

“If not,” he said, “the laws that were created when the emergency was in force would cease and this would cause difficulties for the government in controlling crime and maintaining public order.”

The declaration would also facilitate the immediate enactment, by the King, of laws to counter terrorism and other threats to public order without going through Parliament, if such a need arises.

According to Nazri, a proclamation of emergency is made when the public’s safety or economic livelihood or the peace of the country is under threat.

“Clause 3 of Article 150 of the Federal Constitution clearly gives power to the King to revoke the emergency proclamations and ordinances or if a resolution in the Dewan Rakyat or Dewan Negara to annul the proclamation or ordinance is passed,” he said.

Since independence, there have been four proclamations of emergency.

The Proclamation of Emergency 1964, made in response to Indonesia’s declaration of confrontation with Malaysia, was never revoked, but a court ruled in 1971 that the 1969 proclamation had superseded it.

The Proclamation of Emergency (Sarawak) 1966 was caused by a constitutional crisis in the state.

The 1969 proclamation followed demonstrations and violence that began on May 13 of that year because of racial tensions.

The 1977 proclamation was the government’s response to a political crisis in Kelantan.