M'sia's king declares state of emergency in bid to control rising Covid-19 cases

Kayla Wong | January 12, 2021, 11:13 AM

Malaysia's King Al-Sultan Abdullah declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, Jan. 12, in an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Emergency to list till Aug. 1 or earlier

The palace said in a statement that the pandemic is at "a critical stage", which called for the proclamation of emergency, Reuters reported.

The emergency will last till Aug. 1 or earlier depending on the situation with Covid-19 infections.

An emergency would allow for suspension of Parliament and for the executive branch of the government to decide on the rules needed to ensure public security.

The move follows Muhyiddin's Monday (Jan. 11) announcement of a fresh round of lockdown measures in six states that will last for at least two weeks.

The country is currently facing challenges in containing a new wave that was caused by the Sabah state election held in September last year.

The country reported 2,433 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, Jan. 10. New daily infections have constantly exceeded the 2,000 mark after reaching 3,027 on Jan. 7.

Malaysia has reported 138,224 total cases so far, with the death toll standing at 555.

Political infighting

The move also comes amid reports of infighting in Malaysia's ruling coalition, the Alliance Party, between Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's Bersatu party and the largest ruling party United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

UMNO has called for snap elections amid the raging pandemic, while Bersatu has opposed the move, saying an election should only be held after the situation improves.

UMNO is set to decide on its general assembly on Jan. 31 whether to sever ties with Bersatu and push for an election.

Previously in October, the king had turned down Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's plea to consider implementing a state of emergency, Malay Mail reported.

The king had thought there was no need for one as he was satisfied with the approach Muhyiddin's government has taken to curb the spread of the pandemic.

He had also warned politicians in the country to stop all forms of "politicking" that can disrupt the stability of the country's government.

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