Malaysia’s king rejects PM’s proposal to declare emergency


PTI, Oct 25, 2020, 8:27 PM IST

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia’s king on Sunday rejected a proposal by embattled Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to declare a state of emergency to fight a new outbreak of the coronavirus.

The plan by Muhyiddin, which involves suspending Parliament, has sparked national outrage, with critics slamming the move as an undemocratic means for him to hang on to power amid challenges to his leadership.

The palace said in a statement that Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah “is of the opinion that there is currently no need for His Majesty to declare a state of emergency in this country or any part of Malaysia.”

Muhyiddin met with the monarch on Friday to seek royal assent.

Earlier Sunday, the king held a meeting with other royal households to discuss the prime minister’s proposal.

He said in the statement that he believes in Muhyiddin’s ability to cope with the crisis and urged a halt to “all politicking” that could disrupt the government’s stability.

The king can declare a state of emergency that allows the country to be governed through ordinances that cannot be challenged in court.

Muhyiddin took power in March after instigating the cause of the former reformist alliance, but his government is shaky, with only a two-seat majority in Parliament.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has alleged that he has the support of a majority of lawmakers to topple Muhyiddin, but hasn’t managed to secure the monarch’s support.

Muhyiddin faces a key test early next month when his government is due to seek approval for its 2021 budget in Parliament. If he is unable to pass the bill, pressure will build for him to resign or call new elections.

A state of emergency could allow him to delay that vote and consolidate support.

Malaysia’s coronavirus cases doubled to more than 26,000 in just three weeks following a new outbreak, mainly in Sabah state on Borneo island.

Muhyiddin met the king Friday but the palace said the king will have to confer with the heads of the other royal households on his proposals without giving details.

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