Anwar files suit against Muhyiddin, govt over Parliament suspension

He seeks declaration from court that PM gave unlawful advice to King to call the halt

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin seen on television during a special national address on Jan 12, when Malaysia declared a state of emergency to battle the Covid-19 pandemic. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim described the emergency declaration as an "eg
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin seen on television during a special national address on Jan 12, when Malaysia declared a state of emergency to battle the Covid-19 pandemic. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim described the emergency declaration as an "egregious abuse of power" and a move by the Perikatan Nasional government to cling on to power.PHOTO: BERNAMA

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has filed a lawsuit against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and the government, seeking a court declaration that Tan Sri Muhyiddin gave unlawful advice to the King to suspend Parliament during the state of emergency.

"Among reliefs sought in that application is a declaration from the court that the Prime Minister's advice to the King to suspend Parliament during the period of the emergency proclaimed recently is against the law and the Federal Constitution," Democratic Action Party MP Ramkarpal Singh, who is also the party's legal bureau chairman, said in a statement yesterday.

Mr Ramkarpal, who is acting for Datuk Seri Anwar, said that the application for leave for judicial review was filed on Monday by the opposition leader at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

"It has to be stressed here that what is being challenged in that application is not the emergency declaration, but the decision of the Prime Minister (through the Cabinet) to advise the King to approve Rule 14 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 that suspends Parliament during the emergency period.

"The Prime Minister's advice is said to be in contravention of the law," said Mr Ramkarpal, adding that he hoped to get an early date from the High Court for the application to be heard.

On Jan 12, Malaysia declared an emergency to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed 700 people in the country so far.

The palace has said that Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah assented to the government's request for an emergency order that will be effective up to Aug 1 or earlier should Covid-19 cases come under control.

Mr Anwar said on Jan 17 that the opposition was planning to challenge the emergency declaration in court.

He described it as an "egregious abuse of power" and a move by Mr Muhyiddin's Perikatan Nasional (PN) government to cling on to power.

Critics have questioned the need for the declaration of a state of emergency, given that restrictions under the movement control order, first imposed early last year, were sufficient to bring daily cases down to single digits initially.

They accuse Mr Muhyiddin of resorting to the emergency order after losing his parliamentary majority. Two lawmakers from Umno, which is in PN, have withdrawn their support for the government, leaving it with the backing of just 109 MPs in the 220-seat Parliament. Two seats are vacant.

The Proclamation of Emergency states that existing federal and state governments will remain in power until the order is lifted on Aug 1 - or earlier if so determined by an independent panel - with all legislative bodies suspended during this period.

Mr Anwar has argued that Parliament is needed to balance "the absolute" power conferred to the government during an emergency.

He said last Wednesday that opposition and government MPs had written to the King appealing for a reversal of the emergency declaration.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2021, with the headline 'Anwar files suit against Muhyiddin, govt over Parliament suspension'. Subscribe