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What's in the Emergency Ordinance 2021?

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 15): The Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 was finally gazetted yesterday, three days after a state of emergency was declared by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

What are the highlights of the ordinance?

For starters, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his Cabinet have been granted executive functions. This also applies to the existing menteris besar, chief ministers, state executive councils and state cabinets.

The ordinance also includes the establishment of a special independent committee to "advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the continuing existence of the grave emergency threatening the security, economic life and public order of the Federation arising from the epidemic of an infectious disease, namely Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19)".

The members of this committee will be appointed by the King, according to the ordinance. However, it notably does not specify that the committee needs to include lawmakers from the government and opposition, as per the statement by the palace issued on Monday.

The ordinance also enables the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or persons authorised by him to temporarily take possession of land, buildings or other movable properties, as well as demand use of resources — namely human resources, facilities, utilities and assets, and the controller of said resources.

Failure to comply could result in a jail term of up to 10 years, a fine of up to RM5 million, or both.

The compensation for temporary possession of properties, or use of resources, will be assessed by a person appointed by the King. It will be final and conclusive, and cannot be challenged in court.

The ordinance also allows the King or other persons authorised by him to issue directions for treatment, immunisation, isolation, observation or surveillance, as per the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.

In addition, the ordinance also protects the government, public officers or persons appointed to issue the abovementioned directives against legal action.

Notably, it also confers upon the armed forces the additional powers of police officers, as per the Criminal Procedure Code.

To read the full ordinance, click here.

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