Malaysian opposition chief Anwar urges MPs to appeal to King to lift emergency

Mr Anwar asked MPs to write in to the King by Friday so that Parliament may be convened before the end of the month.
Mr Anwar asked MPs to write in to the King by Friday so that Parliament may be convened before the end of the month.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Thursday (Jan 14) urged federal lawmakers to appeal to the King to rescind the emergency declaration made on Tuesday, and for Parliament to sit as soon as possible.

In a letter to MPs, Datuk Seri Anwar, who is also president of opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), asked them to write in by Friday so that Parliament may be convened before the end of the month to discuss the emergency, the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic crisis.

"I have sent letters to all MPs urging them to write to the King to revoke the emergency declaration and call for a Parliamentary sitting as soon as possible," he said in a press statement.

Malaysia's Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, based on advice from Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, has declared a national state of emergency to allow the government to focus on fighting Covid-19.

Malaysia has logged more than 2,000 daily cases for most of the last two weeks, with a record high 3,309 cases on Tuesday.

The emergency declaration also suspended parliamentary sittings.

Malaysia last declared emergency in 1977 for Kelantan state only owing to a political crisis.

The last nationwide emergency was proclaimed 51 years ago after the deadly 1969 race riots.

The 2021 emergency could last until Aug 1, depending on whether the number of infections can be controlled.

But Mr Anwar said existing measures being implemented such as the movement control order (MCO) were sufficient to control the spread of Covid-19.

"We feel that the Prime Minister and the government have overreached and deviated in advising the King because it does not have anything to do with the Covid-19 pandemic, floods, or the economy. The Prime Minister is more focused on efforts to remain in power."

Five Malaysian states and the three federal territories including Kuala Lumpur were placed under the MCO for two weeks from until Jan 26, with many businesses closed and interstate and inter-district travel banned.

Opposition politicians and even those in Umno, a member of Mr Muhyiddin's loose Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, are incensed by the emergency declaration.

It was declared just as two Umno MPs withdrew their support for PN, effectively making Mr Muhyiddin in charge of a minority government.

He has support only from 109 MPs today in the 222-strong Parliament.

Mr Anwar in his statement said the request for an emergency by PM Muhyiddin was invalid as he no longer possessed the majority in Parliament.

PKR MP William Leong said on Tuesday that he and a group of concerned lawyers and citizens were exploring avenues to legally dispute the emergency.

But he added that the move was not a challenge of the King's authority to issue the proclamation, but rather the advice given to him.

"We are looking to see who gave bad advice to the Agong (King) in making the emergency proclamation," he was quoted as saying by the Malay Mail news website.