M'sia PM Muhyiddin to seek emergency powers to deal with Covid-19 outbreak: M'sian media

A special cabinet meeting was held earlier in the morning of Oct. 23.

Sulaiman Daud | October 23, 2020, 05:10 PM

Malaysian media outlets, citing unnamed sources, have reported that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is seeking special emergency powers to deal with the recent Covid-19 outbreak.

The Star reported that Muhyiddin has sought an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Malaysia's king, at 5pm on Oct. 23.

Earlier in the day, Malay Mail reported that Muhyiddin chaired a special meeting with several Cabinet Ministers and the Chief of the Defence Force present.

Dewan Rakyat to dissolve?

The audience with the king is meant to communicate the Cabinet's decision to dissolve the Dewan Rakyat, Malaysia's parliament, and suspend political activities.

The Star, quoting an unnamed source, said that this move would prevent the need to hold by-elections at a time when Covid-19 cases in Malaysia are spiking.

"We can't risk having a by-election now. It will be irresponsible to put the lives of EC officials and voters at risk now with the pandemic raging in Sabah."

The country's Election Commission had scheduled a by-election on Dec. 5 for the seat of Batu Sapi in Sabah following the death of its Member of Parliament Liew Vui Keong.

However, the recent Sabah state election has been linked to the surge of Covid-19 cases.

Budget 2021

The Straits Times (ST) cited an unnamed source who said that the emergency will not involve "curfews" and "military presence" after the 1969 race riots.

"Instead, normal life under the Movement Control Order (MCO) will continue, without politics getting in the way of dealing with a health crisis," said ST's source.

ST also mentioned the possibility that Muhyiddin's government might fall if he did not receive enough support for Malaysia's Budget 2021, to be tabled in parliament on Nov. 6, and was unable to approve government spending.

It is unclear whether his PKR rival, Anwar Ibrahim, would be able to command a majority and form a government to replace Muhyiddin's if that occurred.

Muhyiddin's emergency powers would allow the executive branch to approve expenditures necessary for public security while parliament is suspended.

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Top image from Muhyiddin Yassin's Facebook page.