Malaysia’s king to consult with rulers amid talk of emergency

Cheryl Sanders
October 26, 2020

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.

No official announcement has been made by the prime minister but Muhyiddin is reportedly on his way to meet with King Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al Mustaffa Billah Shah, who is now in Pahang, after chairing a cabinet meeting.

Turning down Muhyiddin's request on Sunday, the king also asked politicians to end any politicking that could destabilise a government that he said has handled the pandemic well, and stressed the importance of the 2021 budget scheduled to be set before parliament on November 6.

Muhyiddin said the cabinet would discuss the king's rejection of his request. He also welcomed the king's advice to ensure his government's stability.

Sultan Abdullah, who earlier Sunday conferred with other royal households on the emergency proposal, said the government has handled the pandemic well and believes Muhyiddin is capable of implementing measures to cope with the crisis.

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

Muhyiddin has been in a precarious position since he took office in March with a two-seat majority. Failure to pass the budget would be the equivalent to a no-confidence vote against Muhyiddin and put pressure on him to call for a general election.

In the statement on Sunday, Sultan Abdullah stressed that the budget to be tabled to the parliament is "very important for the people in dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak and the economic recovery". Despite the king's rebuff, his endorsement of Muhyiddin's government may help the premier get the budget bill passed.

Malaysia registered a record 1,228 new cases on Saturday, according to the health ministry, with 889 in Sabah state. Politicians from both sides of the divide as well as legal and medical experts have said an emergency declaration is unnecessary and there are sufficient laws to curb public movement and impose penalties to curb the virus. The last time emergency laws were invoked nationally was in 1969 during deadly racial riots.

He was alluding to opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's claim that there has been a shift in allegiance among lawmakers, and he now has "formidable and convincing" backing to form a new government.

The Southeast Asia nation was plunged into political instability in late February following the resignation of the previous prime minister, veteran politician Mahathir Mohamad, after his coalition broke apart, and former ally Muhyiddin forged a new alliance with UMNO to become prime minister.

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