Coronavirus: Asia

Panel to advise Malaysia's King on when to lift state of emergency

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia yesterday announced a 19-member committee led by a former chief justice to advise the King on when the country's state of emergency should be lifted.

The members of the independent committee include three opposition lawmakers.

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

Parliament sittings have been suspended and the emergency has allowed the government to rope in private hospitals to provide beds and ventilators for Covid-19 patients.

The state of emergency is set to continue until Aug 1, but can be lifted earlier if the ruler accepts the advice of the committee that the coronavirus pandemic is under control.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin has indicated that a general election will be held once the Covid-19 pandemic is over.

Opposition lawmakers led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim have been agitating for the King to remove the emergency so that a Parliament sitting can be held to test Mr Muhyiddin's political support among lawmakers and to discuss the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Malaysia's daily Covid-19 cases have numbered mostly above 3,000 in the last five weeks, and reached a record high of 5,728 on Jan 30.

On Monday, Malaysia logged 24 Covid-19 fatalities, its highest single-day number of deaths since the virus was tracked in January last year.

Yesterday, there were 2,764 new cases - the first time the tally was below 3,000 since Jan 13 this year.

The independent committee is led by former chief justice Arifin Zakaria, who will serve as chairman.

The three opposition MPs in the committee are Mr Saifuddin Nasution Ismail from Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Mr Anthony Loke from the Democratic Action Party, and Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad from Parti Amanah Negara.

The other members include former chief secretary to the government Samsudin Osman, former police chief Norian Mai and former armed forces chief Zulkifli Zainal Abidin.

Also in the committee are Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia president Ter Leong Yap, Cyberjaya University pro-chancellor R. Palan and Perlis mufti Asri Zainul Abidin.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2021, with the headline 'Panel to advise Malaysia's King on when to lift state of emergency'. Subscribe