Malaysian King: End political bickering

From left: King Tuanku Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the 50th National mosque anniversary at the Mosque.
From left: King Tuanku Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the 50th National mosque anniversary at the Mosque. PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Malaysians are "exhausted" by the constant political bickering along partisan interests, Malaysia's King told federal MPs yesterday, and called on everyone to stand together for the country.

Opening a new parliamentary session yesterday, Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah said: "We hope that all honourable members end politics for narrow interests as it has dragged on for a long time where it has exhausted the people and government." Lawmakers and the public should instead unite and show undivided loyalty to "defend and protect" the country.

His call came three days after former premier Mahathir Mohamad opened a new front in his fight to topple Prime Minister Najib Razak by cobbling together what has been called a "Citizens' Alliance".

The King said in his speech, by convention one prepared by the government, that attempts to incite racial sentiment and "abuse of social media by spreading seditious and slanderous remarks and extremist ideologies" should be contained immediately.

The Malaysian authorities have moved to block websites, including The Malaysian Insider news site. They have also charged people over posts on blogs, Facebook and Twitter for content deemed criminal.

Tun Dr Mahathir's cobbling together of rebel Umno leaders, opposition politicians and civil society groups threatens to ratchet up political temperatures in the coming months.

The alliance is supported by jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, the first time in 17 years that Dr Mahathir and his former protege have come together politically.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2016, with the headline 'Malaysian King: End political bickering'. Print Edition | Subscribe