Opposition wants two ministers sacked for allegedly pushing emergency plan

Senior Minister for Economy Azmin Ali (left) and Home Affairs Minister Hamzah Zainuddin have been accused by the Malaysian opposition of being the masterminds behind the recent failed attempt to declare a state of emergency in the country.
Several PH leaders want Senior Minister for Economy Azmin Ali (above) and Home Affairs Minister Hamzah Zainuddin removed from the Cabinet.
Senior Minister for Economy Azmin Ali (left) and Home Affairs Minister Hamzah Zainuddin have been accused by the Malaysian opposition of being the masterminds behind the recent failed attempt to declare a state of emergency in the country.
Several PH leaders want Senior Minister for Economy Azmin Ali and Home Affairs Minister Hamzah Zainuddin (above) removed from the Cabinet.

Malaysia's opposition yesterday called for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to sack two Cabinet ministers whom they accused of being the masterminds behind a failed attempt to declare a state of emergency in the country.

Several Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders want Senior Minister for Economy Azmin Ali and Home Affairs Minister Hamzah Zainuddin removed from the Cabinet. The opposition did not say how it concluded that the two men were behind the bid to get the Malaysian King to declare an emergency.

On Sunday, the King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, rejected the government's proposal to declare an emergency.

Datuk Seri Azmin and Datuk Seri Hamzah were the same men accused by PH of being the key planners who caused the collapse of the Mahathir Mohamad administration in late February.

"To reset the scene, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin should make Parliament the avenue for genuine cooperation, consultation and co-governing with the opposition for the greater good of the nation in this time of Covid-19 crisis," wrote Mr Liew Chin Tong, former deputy minister in the PH government.

"To smoothen the process, it would be very helpful if Muhyiddin offers the heads of Hamzah Zainuddin and Azmin Ali," he wrote on his blog.

"With the departures of Hamzah and Azmin from the Cabinet, cooperation among the governing PN (Perikatan Nasional) coalition parties will improve, and a friendlier milieu for a genuine bipartisan working relationship with the opposition in a time of Covid-19 crisis would be fostered."

Opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat MP Wong Chen has also called for Mr Muhyiddin to either resign or sack the two ministers.

"If he (Muhyiddin) doesn't resign, then at least two of his senior ministers should be sacked. We know that the Prime Minister has not been in the best of health for some time, and there is persistent talk that he is being influenced by these two senior ministers," Mr Wong wrote in a Facebook post.

A section of Umno, a party allied to Mr Muhyiddin's Perikatan Nasional alliance, is also suspicious of Mr Azmin and Mr Hamzah, the Prime Minister's two senior lieutenants in Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia. Mr Muhyiddin is Bersatu's president.

Umno Supreme Council member Puad Zarkashi claimed that Bersatu leaders had pointed the finger at Mr Azmin and Mr Hamzah during an emotional meeting at the Prime Minister's residence on Sunday night, following the King's rejection of the emergency declaration.

"Is it true that they had ill-advised Muhyiddin?" he asked on his Facebook page.

Mr Muhyiddin had attempted to convince the King last Friday to declare a state of emergency, ostensibly to allow the government to focus on fighting the pandemic amid a surge in the number of Covid-19 cases.

However, critics said the plan to call an emergency was a ploy by the Premier to remain in office, given that his razor-thin majority would be tested in Parliament when it meets next month to debate the budget.

If the budget is not passed, the government would collapse, triggering snap polls.

Bersatu vice-president Mohd Rafiq Naizamohideen said that calls for Mr Muhyiddin to step down "clearly go against and disrespect the King's decree for all parties to stop politicking".

Meanwhile, Umno Youth has called for a truce among political parties to focus on the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Politicians should... stop playing politics that could destroy the nation and burden the rakyat (people)," said Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2020, with the headline 'Opposition wants two ministers sacked for allegedly pushing emergency plan'. Print Edition | Subscribe