Bid to put Malaysia under state of emergency rejected

Malaysian King Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin has rejected a proposal to declare a state of emergency to combat the increasing cases of coronavirus amid strong opposition from the public.

In a statement read by Ahmad Fadil Shamsudin, comptroller of the royal household, the king “[was] of the opinion that there [was] no need at this moment … to declare an emergency in the country or in any part of Malaysia.”

The plan was brought to the table by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, while the decision was made following a meeting between the king and Malay hereditary rulers earlier on Sunday.

There had been a strong public backlash since word leaked on Friday that the prime minister was mulling over the declaration of a state of emergency. His detractors believed that he was using the pandemic as an excuse to hold on to power as he could potentially face a no-confidence vote in the lower house parliament when the year-end meeting begins on November 2.

In a separate statement on Sunday, Deputy Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Ali Biju said that the government would not involve military rules or curfews, but only the suspension of parliament.

“Only (the) parliament would be suspended; political activities limited; and wannabe superheroes cannot get to spook anyone with their strong, convincing, and formidable superpowers,” he was quoted as saying.

Biju was referring to opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s claim that there had been a shift in allegiance among lawmakers, claiming he gathered enough backing to form a new government.

But there was also speculation that Muhyiddin may pre-empt the budget vote by calling for a snap poll.

Voters, however, were wary of contracting the virus, with the country facing a third wave of the disease, thus the move to declare a state of emergency.

The king earlier warned to stop undermining the government, and instead asked them to support the proposed national budget for next year.

“Abdullah also viewed that there is no need for any Members of Parliament to continue with their irresponsible action that could threaten the stability of the current government,” said Shamsudin.