Malaysia’s king has urged parliament to reconvene as soon as possible amid growing public anger over the government’s handling of the pandemic that has left democracy suspended all year.
The statement from the national palace on Wednesday
followed a meeting of the country’s royal leaders chaired by King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad and comes as daily Covid-19 infections averaged about 5,800 in the past seven days, nearly double than when Malaysia declared emergency rule in January.
The parliament was “an important platform for elected representatives to convene to discuss various issues, particularly related to the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic,” the statement said. “His Majesty also expressed the view that there should be a stable and strong government administration” to restore the country’s economy. In a separate statement, the royal rulers noted there was no reason to extend the emergency beyond August 1.
Embattled Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s move to declare a state of emergency was the first in more than half a century. It allowed him to suspend parliament and enact emergency laws without legislative approval, with the aim of
bringing the outbreak under control. That also meant no snap polls could be called during that period.
The ongoing uncertainty has seen Malaysia’s monarchy emerge as a new force after staying in the background of the nation’s politics for decades, and follows the king’s decision to step in last year to fill a vacuum created following the abrupt resignation of Mahathir Mohamad as premier. The king resolved a week-long impasse by tapping Muhyiddin to become prime minister.
“This meeting further exhibits that the royalty will continue playing an expanding and conspicuous role in the Malaysian political landscape,” Piya Sukhani, a political analyst at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University, said.