Kuala Lumpur – Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin faced calls to resign on Monday as doubts swirled over the support that he commands, after the king rejected his request to declare a state of emergency to fight the coronavirus epidemic.
Muhyiddin had requested emergency rule amid a fresh spike in infections in Malaysia and global pandemic that has battered the economy. But critics accused him of seeking a pretext to suspend parliament and avoid a test of his razor-thin parliamentary majority.
King Al-Sultan Abdullah’s refusal is seen further eroding Muhyiddin’s grip on power, a month after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said he has majority support in parliament, including from defectors from the ruling alliance, to form a new government.
Turning down Muhyiddin’s request on Sunday, the king also asked politicians to end any politicking that could destabilise a government that he said has handled the pandemic well.
But leaders of other parties in Muhyiddin’s coalition and the opposition criticised his move to seek emergency powers and called on him to step down after the bid failed.
“Thankfully, His Majesty the King was not influenced by the political game that could drag the country into more critical territory,” said Ahmad Puad Zarkashi, a senior leader in the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) – the largest party in the ruling coalition – in a post on Facebook.
“The people’s wellbeing is more important. By right, Muhyiddin should step down,” Ahmad Puad said.
Opposition lawmaker Wong Chen said Muhyiddin’s “malicious” proposal was rightfully rejected by the king, and that the premier should resign or fire ministers who proposed the emergency.
Muhyiddin is holding a Cabinet meeting on Monday that is scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m. (0330 GMT). In a statement on Sunday, the premier said the Cabinet would discuss the king’s rejection of his request. – Reuters