King of Malaysia blames Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government for deceiving Parliament over coronavirus emergency measures, prompting repeated calls by desperate leader to resign
Muhyiddin received royal consent to declare a state of emergency in January, which allowed him to stop parliament and government by decree without the approval of legislation. Critics have criticized the emergency as a ploy to keep Muhyiddin in power at a time when his thin razor majority in parliament is under threat.
Parliament reopened on Monday for the first time this year after Muhyiddin relented under pressure from the king, but the government said the five-day special session would be just to have lawmakers report on the pandemic and other proposals would not be allowed.
The king, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, disputed a statement by Law Minister Takiyuddin Hasan to parliament on Monday that the emergency provisions were repealed on July 21, before the August 1 expiration.
The monarch said he disapproved of the proposed annulment and that Takiyuddin’s statement was “incorrect and confused” members of the legislature.
Sultan Abdullah said that he asked the Minister of Law and the State Prosecutor to bring the issue to the Parliament for discussion and he is disappointed that it was not implemented. He said the government’s hasty move was an insult to the rule of law and neglected the king’s functions and powers as head of state.
The king’s statement immediately sparked a storm in parliament, with opposition lawmakers shouting “betrayal” and demanding that Muhyiddin resign.
The king’s statement shows that the government led by Muhyiddin “violated the constitution, insulted the royal institution” and that Takiyuddin deliberately lied to the house, said opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who filed a no-confidence motion against Muhyiddin.
Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and members of the United Malaysian National Organization, the largest party in the ruling coalition, have reiterated calls for Muhyiddin to resign.
Muhyiddin was defiant and defended the action of his government. The prime minister’s office said in a statement issued later Thursday that Muhyiddin wrote to the king on July 23 to inform him of the government’s decision to repeal the decrees, and he informed him again during an audience on July 27. , the king must accept the advice of the government and act on it.
“The government considers that all actions taken are orderly and in accordance with the provisions of the law and the federal constitution,” the statement said.
Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Sabri, a member of UMNO, insisted in a statement that the government still has majority support.
The opposition has previously accused Muhyiddin of trying to avoid votes in parliament that could show he has lost the support of the majority and ask the king to call a new leader.
The parliamentary session was postponed after the Ministry of Health ordered swabs for all legislators after two positive COVID-19 cases in Parliament. The deputy speaker of the House of Representatives later said parliament would be postponed until Monday as two more cases were uncovered, ignoring shouts of protest from lawmakers who accused the government of organizing a delay in buying time in the midst of the crisis.
Analysts say the unprecedented royal rebuke further undermines Muhyiddin’s unelected government, which took power in March 2020 with a small majority in parliament.
“Muhyiddin depended on the king’s support. He stood on the back of the king’s support. Today, that leg has been withdrawn, ”said Bridget Welsh of the University of Nottingham in Malaysia and a Southeast Asian policy expert.
“It will increase the pressure for him to give up and weaken his support at a time when he is considered to be mismanaging the pandemic,” she said.
The Welshman said Muhyiddin “is trying to make it a battle for legal interpretation when it is actually a cultural battle over respect for Malaysian traditional authority”.
Despite emergency measures, the government has failed to contain the growing rise in coronavirus infections, with total cases exceeding one million on Sunday.
Muhyiddin became prime minister after launching the fall of the reformist government that won in 2018 electionss. His party Bersatu formed an unstable alliance that includes UMNO, which was dismissed in the 2018 elections.
UMNO, the largest party in the alliance, was not happy with playing the second fiddle to Bersatu and recently said it would withdraw support for Muhyiddin. But some of his lawmakers continue to support the prime minister.