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Malaysia’s King Rejects PM’s Request to Declare State of Emergency

Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah has rejected Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s request to declare a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The royal palace announced the decision in a statement Sunday, saying the king “is of the opinion that there is no need at the moment for His Majesty to declare an emergency in the country.”  

The statement also said the king is pleased with Prime Minister Muhyiddin’s handling of the pandemic, and called on all politicians to stop any campaigning that could seriously damage the government’s stability. 

Muhyiddin later issued a statement saying he welcomed the king’s advice and would discuss it with his cabinet.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin speaks during a news conference in Putrajaya, March 11, 2020.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin speaks during a news conference in Putrajaya, March 11, 2020.

Had the king approved Muhyiddin’s request, the state of emergency would have suspended Parliament before he was scheduled to present a budget in early November.  Failure to pass the budget would be the equivalent to a no-confidence vote against Muhyiddin and put pressure on him to call for a general election.   

Muhyiddin has been prime minister since February, when he was chosen by King Abdullah after then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad unexpectedly resigned and his government collapsed.  Veteran opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim met with the king last month and said he gave him the names of 120 members of the 222-seat parliament who are ready to defect from the prime minister’s razor-thin ruling coalition. 

But the royal palace later released a statement saying Anwar only told the king the number of lawmakers who would support his takeover bid without revealing their identities. 

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