KUCHING, May 5: The federal government should respect the legal rights or powers conferred to states under the Federal Constitution to exercise its authority.
Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii emphasised that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) federal government should not have used a threatening tone in addressing the matter over the reluctance of several state governments to fully comply with the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).
“The federal constitution especially what is listed in Schedule 9 provided the powers of the states under the concept of federalism that we practice in our country.
“Technically, based on item 7 of the 9th Schedule of the Concurrent List in the Federal Constitution which determines the role of federal and state powers, it clearly states that both federal and state has concurrent powers on ‘Public Health’ and ‘Prevention of Disease,” he said in a statement today.
Moreover, Dr Yii stressed that the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land, which meant that it is even higher than the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 [Act 342] itself.
He was commenting about the warning issued by Minister for International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali yesterday (May 4) saying that state governments, which refused to cooperate in implementing Act 342 that has been gazetted into law and enforceable throughout the country, the state governments may face the possibility of legal action from various parties, particularly industry players.
Dr Yii also pointed out that in Sarawak, there is the Local Authorities Ordinance 1996 as well as the Businesses, Professions and Trades Licensing Ordinance [ Cap. 33 ] which also deals with matters of public health in public areas and that of business licensing and setting of regulations for running of business in the State.
“On top of that, we also have the Protection of Public Health Ordinance 1998 which gives a certain authority to state to deal with matters of public health in a local context,” he added.
While acknowledging the presence of Article 81 of the Federal Constitution which gives the condition where the state governments can exercise executive authority as long it is consistent with any federal law applying to that State, he believed that this issue can be settled in a more constructive manner.
“So, I do hope the state government can respond to the federal government as soon as possible to give some clarity as this has caused a lot of confusion on the ground, especially among the people.
“People just want clarity and certainty, and also proper and detailed steps on the proper long-term ‘exit plan’ to adapt to this ‘new normal,” he said.
Dr Yii emphasised that this has to be properly communicated and adequate time should also be given for proper adaptation and efficient enforcement rather than having a flip-flop policy that only causes more confusion.
“If this gets out of control, this may not only trigger a constitutional crisis that may threaten scare the effectiveness of our fight against the pandemic and but also even scare away investors and affect the long-term economic future of our country,” he said.—DayakDaily