The final session for Malaysia’s special parliament sitting on Monday has been postponed indefinitely because of an outbreak of Covid cases, likely easing pressure on embattled Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin amid mounting calls for him to resign.
The deferment follows an assessment by the health ministry, which found the parliament building to be at risk of a spread in infections, according to a letter from the House of Representatives secretary addressed to lawmakers. The Senate’s special sitting from August 3-5 was also postponed.
Muhyiddin’s troubles deepened Thursday after the king rebuked a government minister for misleading the parliament on the status of ordinances related to the state of emergency.
Chaos erupted following the king’s intervention, with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim urging Muhyiddin to take responsibility and step down. Proceedings in the House were later suspended after the health ministry ordered a screening for all lawmakers following the detection of two Covid cases in the building.
Parliament was to reconvene on Monday.“Many MPs had expected this. Many quarters think it’s not due to Covid-19,” Member of Parliament Ahmad Maslan wrote on Twitter. “The political crisis must be resolved immediately.”
Malaysia’s parliament sat for the first time this year last Monday, following pressure from the monarch. The five-day session was meant to provide lawmakers a chance to grill Muhyiddin over his government’s handling of the
Public anger against him has risen as new Covid-19 cases have more than tripled to a record since the emergency was imposed in early January, and confirmed cases breached the one million mark less than a week ago. Infections totaled 17,150 on Sunday, down slightly from Saturday’s fresh high.
The letter announcing the postponement came shortly after hundreds of protesters, largely dressed in black, gathered in the capital Kuala Lumpur on Saturday calling for the resignation of Muhyiddin, a full parliamentary session and an automatic loan moratorium for all.
The opposition, which has filed a motion of no-confidence against Muhyiddin, said the Covid risk is an “excuse” to adjourn Monday’s sitting. The positive rate of below 1% in parliament is well below the World Health Organization’s threshold of 5%, Pakatan Harapan coalition said in a statement signed by Anwar Ibrahim, Mohamad Sabu and Lim Guan Eng.