The State of Emergency declared by the King earlier this year is not related to politics at all, but was instead an appropriate action to make in response to a major health crisis faced by the nation, said Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
Speaking to Bernama TV on Monday (1 Mar), Muhyiddin said that the Emergency was not a tool for him to cling on to the Prime Minister’s post, but a pre-emptive move in ensuring that the COVID-19 pandemic could be managed quickly and effectively.
The Emergency would be lifted earlier than its scheduled end on 1 August if the government is able to control the pandemic situation in the country, he added.
“If the independent special committee says [the Emergency] can be put to an end earlier, I will just follow that. We also do not want to be under restriction by such regulations forever,” said the prime minister.
Muhyiddin said that during an Emergency, the government could propose amendments to certain Acts or enact express regulations in the form of ordinances without having to go through Parliament.
While Muhyiddin said that he is not aware of the current numbers of members of Parliament (MPs) supporting him, he expressed confidence that he still holds the majority support in the cabinet.
“I am convinced that my current position is constitutionally legal. I cannot sit as an illegitimate prime minister. I’m not worried about that as long as I do my job properly,” he said.
Muhyiddin said that the 15th general election would be held at a suitable time, emphasising that the main priority, for now, is to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The most important thing for us now is the COVID-19 issue. Once we are done with it, I would not wait a day to hold the elections,” he stated.
The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah on 12 Jan declared a state of Emergency in view of an alarming spike in reported daily COVID-19 cases.
Muhyiddin stressed that the state of Emergency declared by the King is “not a military coup” and that a curfew will not be enforced.
He also ensured that “a civilian government will continue to function” amid the state of Emergency.
A week after the Istana Negara issued a statement on Parliament being permitted to reconvene during the Emergency period on a date yet to be decided, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim questioned Muhyiddin’s silence over the Palace’s statement.
“Prior to this, the government had been informing the rakyat that the emergency was declared by the King and therefore, it cannot be questioned,” Anwar said in a live video on his Facebook page.
Netizens on Facebook also questioned the reason for the suspension of Parliament sessions.
One commenter demands the Parliament to reconvene, as most “MPs are prioritised for COVID-19 vaccination”.
One user opined that the Parliamentary session is “vital for political administration” as it allows politicians to discuss and debate on the issues faced by the citizens.
Some commenters also ridiculed the suspension of Parliament, asking why can’t the ministers proceed with Parliament sittings if schools are allowed to resume, and children can attend face-to-face classes.
Starting today, preschoolers, as well as Primary One and Primary Two students, are allowed to attend school for face-to-face learning, as announced by the Minister of Education on 19 Feb.