Malaysia declares an end to the state of emergency as Parliament reconvenes following the virus shutdown.
Malaysia’s government will not extend a contentious coronavirus state of emergency through August 1, according to a minister, as parliament reassembled following a months-long postponement that provoked widespread outrage.
Following Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s advice, the king proclaimed the country’s first statewide state of emergency in more than half a century in January to combat Covid-19.
It gave the government the power to rule by decree and suspend parliament, leading critics to accuse Muhyiddin of exploiting the crisis to avoid a no-confidence vote and prop up his shaky coalition.
Despite the emergency and a statewide lockdown, the disease simply became worse, thanks to the extremely contagious Delta variety. At the weekend, Malaysia’s caseload surpassed one million, with about 8,000 deaths.
Faced with rising public outrage and pressure from the king, Muhyiddin agreed to call a five-day session of the legislature before the state of emergency ends next month.
The opposition, on the other hand, has condemned the brief session as a charade that would not actually put the embattled premier to the test.
Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan declared Monday that the government would not seek an extension of the state of emergency as MPs assembled in the 222-seat lower house wearing masks and divided by transparent screens.
Of a speech to the legislature, Muhyiddin justified his management of the pandemic, stating he understood “the public’s fear amid the surge in Covid cases.”
“The government is not idling while the public suffers – we are taking action to save lives.”
Other ministers are expected to inform MPs on pandemic-related issues.
Opposition MPs, on the other hand, were enraged that they were unable to debate or vote on any matters during the session, pointing out that the king himself had requested that crucial issues be examined.
“The prime minister has betrayed the king by not following the majesty’s wishes,” opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim told the legislature.
Muhyiddin’s administration has been riven by infighting since he seized power without an election in March last year following the collapse of a reformist cabinet.
The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), his most powerful backer, indicated earlier this month that it was withdrawing its support for his alliance.
However, UMNO is split — some of its MPs still support Muhyiddin – and his position appears secure for the time being.