KUALA LUMPUR (MALAYSIA) – In a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus, Malaysia’s king declared a nationwide state of emergency on Tuesday.
In a televised address on Tuesday, Muhyiddin said that elections would not be held in the Southeast Asian nation during the emergency. As part of the emergency parliament will be suspended for a stipulated period of time.
Malaysia’s palace informed that Muhyiddin requested King Al-Sultan Abdullah to declare emergency as a proactive measure to curb COVID-19.
The emergency will last until Aug. 1 or earlier depending on whether coronavirus infections have been brought under control, it said.
“Al-Sultan Abdullah is of the opinion that the spread of COVID-19 is at a critical stage and that there is a need to declare a proclamation of emergency,” the palace said in a statement.
It is widely believed by the opposition that emergency declaration boosts Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s precarious hold on power, and forestalls any attempt by opposition to force an early election.
“Let me assure you, the civilian government will continue to function. The emergency proclaimed by the king is not a military coup and curfew will not be enforced,” Muhyiddin said in an attempt to dispel alarm over the measures.
Muhyiddin also ascertained that elections would go ahead as planned after a new independent committee declares that the pandemic is over and it is safe to hold polls.
Some lawmakers in the ruling coalition have pulled support for the premier and have called for early elections, while opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said last year that he had a majority to form a new government.
Under emergency rule, his government can introduce laws without parliamentary approval.
On Monday, Muhyiddin declared a nationwide travel ban and a 14-day lockdown in the capital Kuala Lumpur and five states, stating that healthcare system for the country of 32 million people is at the brim.
The number of new daily infections hit a record high with the total COVID cases passed 138,000 on Monday, with 555 deaths.
Malaysia’s benchmark share index fell as much as 1.6% after the emergency announcement.