Malaysian PM to ask king to declare state of emergency - sources

by Reuters
Friday, 23 October 2020 11:46 GMT

(Adds comment from opposition leader Anwar, background)

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will ask the king to declare a state of emergency on Friday, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said, a move that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim denounced as an attempt to cling to power.

The sources, who spoke on condition they not be identified as they were not authorised to speak to the media, did not give the reason for the premier's request. The proposed emergency would include the suspension of parliament, which was scheduled to reconvene in November, one of the sources said.

Malaysia is seeing a resurgence in coronavirus cases. Meanwhile, Muhyiddin is facing a leadership challenge from Anwar, who said last month he had majority support in parliament to form a new government.

Responding to reports of the state of emergency, Anwar said in a statement on Friday: "We have a government which lacks legitimacy and which knows it would fail to demonstrate majority support in parliament, and is using the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to justify its abuse of power."

Under the constitution, the king can declare a state of emergency if he is satisfied there is a threat to national security, the economy or public order. Malaysia last declared a national emergency in 1969 after civil unrest and race riots.

The sources did not disclose the full range of measures that Muhyiddin would seek to implement. State news agency Bernama said Muhyiddin was in a meeting with King Al-Sultan Abdullah.

Muhyiddin's office and the palace did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Muhyiddin, who came to power in March with just a two-seat majority in parliament, has been under pressure since Anwar's declaration that he now has majority support in parliament to oust him.

The government is scheduled to propose the budget for 2021 on Nov. 6, and there have been questions over whether the premier would be able to muster a majority to push that through. Emergency rule could mean the budget is not put to a vote at that time. (Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi, Joseph Sipalan and Rozanna Latiff Editing by John Stonestreet and Peter Graff)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.