Malaysian king to decide on economic emergency proposal

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

The King of Malaysia was set to meet with other senior royals to discuss the possibility of declaring a state of emergency as proposed by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

According to a report from Reuters, the prime minister met with King Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shahon on Friday to recommend the declaration of a state of emergency amid the increasing cases of coronavirus in Malaysia. As of Saturday, Malaysia saw a record high of 1,228 new virus infections.

Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah will hold a meeting with the Malay rulers at Istana Negara as soon as possible to discuss and refine the suggestions proposed by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin,” palace comptroller Indera Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin was quoted as saying in a statement.

A report from The Star newspaper said that the informal meeting with the rulers will be held on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

It also said that the king “very much understands the need for continuity in the country’s administration to battle the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The meeting was denounced by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, saying it was an attempt by the prime minister to retain control amid a power struggle due to his inability to control the majority and pass the 2021 national budget. An emergency declaration could suspend the parliament.

Muhyiddin was said to face a no-confidence vote when the parliament convenes on November 6 to discuss the 2021 budget.

Doubts that the prime minister could lose the confidence vote sparked fears that the budget could be left in limbo. This would also trigger a new general election in the middle of a pandemic, an option that both sides of the political divide are keen on avoiding.

In a social media post, Federal Territories Minister Annuar Musa defended the emergency proposal, saying that most Malaysians did not want to go to the polls, having seen how last month’s elections in Sabah resulted in a record-high number of infections and deaths.

“Various parties are threatening to topple the Prime Minister through the Parliament sitting next month,” he said. “If that happens, the PM can dissolve parliament and a general election must be held.”

National elections are not due until 2023, but a political crisis was triggered earlier this month when Ibrahim claimed he secured a formidable majority in the parliament.

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