Less than half a day after Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that a stricter movement control order (MCO) will be imposed in six states in Malaysia for two weeks, the nation’s King on Tuesday morning (12 January) declared a state of emergency in view of an alarming spike in reported daily COVID-19 cases.
On behalf of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, Comptroller of the Royal Household Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin in a statement said that the state of emergency will last until 1 August 2021 or earlier should new COVID-19 cases come under control and are effectively reduced.
The King has approved the formation of an independent committee comprising members of the government and opposition as well as healthcare experts and other related experts.
The committee will be the one to recommend to the King whether the emergency could be lifted before 1 August.
“His Majesty advises the people to remain calm, strong, and to persevere in facing the statement of emergency and the Movement Control Order for the safety and interested of all.”
“His Majesty also calls on the people to be disciplined in adhering to the SOPs and all directives issued by the government and its agencies throughout the periods of emergency and MCO,” the statement read.
The King also took the opportunity to express gratitude for the frontliners who are putting their lives on the line to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a televised address following the Istana Negara’s statement, Muhyiddin stressed that the state of emergency declared by the King is “not a military coup”.
A curfew will not be enforced, and “a civilian government will continue to function”, he added.
The country will be governed in line with the Federal Constitution and several state of emergency ordinances.
This includes the authority to utilise private healthcare institutions, facilities and infrastructure for the purpose of treating COVID-19 patients, particularly in light of the overcapacity of public healthcare facilities at present.
In its statement earlier, the Istana Negara noted that that 15 COVID-19 dedicated hospitals have reached 70 per cent capacity.
In the Klang Valley, the Kuala Lumpur Hospital and University Malaysia Medical Centre intensive care unit (ICU) beds are at 100 per cent capacity while Hospital Sungai Buloh’s ICU beds at are 83 per cent.
ICU beds for COVID-19 patients in Perak, Selangor, Melaka, Terengganu, and Sarawak are all above 70 per cent capacity.
During the state of emergency, Parliament will not be in session and will be suspended until consented to by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. No elections, whether general election or by-elections, will be held during the period.
The courts will carry out their duties as usual during the state of emergency.
“The judiciary will continue to be the beacon of justice in our country, and I would never interfere with the business of the courts,” said Muhyiddin.