Malaysia’s royal rulers will meet later on Sunday (Oct 25) to discuss emergency measures proposed by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, as the country faces a protracted political crisis and struggles to control an escalating pandemic.
The King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, called for the special meeting with the Malay rulers at Istana Negara to discuss and refine suggestions proposed by Tan Sri Muhyiddin, who wants to call a national state of emergency.
The Star daily reported that the meeting, which is scheduled to start at 2.30pm, will be an informal one and attended only by the rulers, with no politicians present.
It also said that the King will deliver the decision to the Prime Minister after the meeting.
Police advised the public not to gather near the palace. Members of the media had begun waiting outside as early as 10am.
The decision might not be an easy one to make.
The proposal to call a state of emergency has attracted widespread condemnation, with the move being described as unconstitutional, undemocratic and a bid by the Premier to retain political power.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has described the proposal as “nothing more than the descent into dictatorship and authoritarianism”.
Democratic Action Party veteran Lim Kit Siang said: “Malaysia must not be put into a state of emergency just to provide life support for Muhyiddin’s political survival. No proposal from a prime minister as the present one to declare a state of emergency and suspend Parliament to fight the Covid-19 pandemic had received such universal rejection from all quarters in Malaysia since the country achieved Merdeka in 1957.”
Some Perikatan Nasional politicians are also against the proposal.
Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan warned that it “could adversely affect the economy, and put the nation as well as the rakyat (people) in a more difficult situation”.
Mr Lim also criticised the government’s silence on the matter.
“Until today, Muhyiddin has not shared with Malaysians his plan to suspend Parliament and put Malaysia into a state of emergency, and Malaysians have to rely on the rumour mills, which have worked overtime since Friday,” he said.
“Most unusual and uncharacteristically, Malaysians are getting more information from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong than from the Prime Minister on the Prime Minister’s proposal,” he added.
The plan to declare a state of emergency comes as Mr Muhyiddin faces the risk of a no-confidence vote when Parliament convenes on Nov 6 to discuss the national budget.
Datuk Seri Anwar claimed a month ago that he had the numbers to wrest control of Parliament from the Premier.
There are fears that the Prime Minister, who only had a wafer-thin majority of two in the previous parliamentary sitting, could lose the confidence vote, leaving the budget in limbo. Furthermore, this could trigger a new general election in the middle of a worsening pandemic, an option both sides of the political divide are keen to avoid.
Malaysia reported a record 1,228 Covid-19 cases on Saturday.