Malaysian PM proposes a state of emergency in a political move to postpone budget vote

PHOTO: Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin - The Star

Malaysia’s head of state is said to be consulting with the country’s other hereditary rulers to discuss a proposal by Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin, who has requested that the King declare a state of emergency. The Star newspaper is reporting that the country’s rulers would meet at 2.30pm tomorrow, after which the king will deliver a decision to the PM.

Muhyiddin had an audience with King Al-Sultan Abdullah yesterday to formally request the rare state of emergency which would result in a suspension of the Malaysian parliament. On the face of the request is the need to take emergency measures to control a recent outbreak in new coronavirus cases. But opposition MPs say the manoeuvre is purely political and not related to the country’s response to Covid-19. They say the country is well equipped to make decisions related to public health and the coronavirus outbreak

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has denounced the move as a “power grab” by the country’s PM. The Council of Rulers, which groups the heads of Malaysia’s 9 royal houses, has the power to withhold consent from any law and deliberate on questions of national policy.

Malaysia is suffering a resurgence in Covid-19 cases, much more pronounced than the first wave in March and April. The move to apply for the dissolution of the Malaysian parliament is being read by commentators as a political stunt, unrelated to the coronavirus spike, since PM Muhyiddin faces a leadership challenge from opposition leader Anwar, who last month claimed majority support in parliament to oust the premier.

Malaysian PM proposes a state of emergency in a political move to postpone budget vote | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile, the palace has not formally identified the specific recommendations made by the PM, and says the king will “soon” be discussing the motion with Malaysia’s other heredity rulers.

“Al-Sultan Abdullah greatly understands the need for the country’s administration to continue to tackle the threat of Covid-19.”

Malaysia has suffered between 800 – 950 new cases per day over the past week, a spike in new cases, causing concern for the South East country that had largely contained the worst of the spread earlier this year.

As a background, the ruling government government is scheduled to propose its 2021 budget on November 6, and there have been questions over whether the PM can muster a majority to pass the supply bill. Defeat on the budget would count as a vote of no-confidence and could trigger an election. Any state of emergency, involving the dissolution of parliament, would postpone a vote on the forthcoming budget.

The government agreed at yesterday’s special cabinet meeting that declaring a state of emergency would halt any attempts to politically destabilise the government, “allowing it to focus on containing the outbreak”.

In a state of emergency, the Malaysian King is able to act on any important bills at his discretion.

SOURCE: Reuters | The Star

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