News analysis

Muhyiddin's royal free pass comes with order to negotiate

Inability to reach deal with opposition may lead to failure to get govt spending approved

Malaysia's King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, waving to reporters outside Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur as he arrived for the meeting with other state monarchs yesterday. The motorcade of Malaysia's Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah leaving the compound of I
Malaysia's King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, waving to reporters outside Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur as he arrived for the meeting with other state monarchs yesterday. PHOTO: BERNAMA
Malaysia's King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, waving to reporters outside Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur as he arrived for the meeting with other state monarchs yesterday. The motorcade of Malaysia's Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah leaving the compound of I
The motorcade of Malaysia's Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah leaving the compound of Istana Negara after the special meeting of Malay rulers on Oct 25, 2020.PHOTO: BERNAMA

While Malaysia continues to struggle against the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's gambit for what is effectively political immunity has fallen short.

He has remained in power since March despite holding the slimmest majority in Malaysian history, repeatedly exhibiting extraordinary survival instincts using the full extent of his executive authority. But an emergency request to enlarge his powers that would include making laws and approving expenditure without parliamentary oversight proved a bridge too far.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2020, with the headline 'Muhyiddin's royal free pass comes with order to negotiate'. Print Edition | Subscribe