Malaysia’s king declared a nationwide state of emergency on Tuesday to fight a COVID-19 surge and parliament was suspended, with critics charging it was a bid by the unstable government to cling to power.
The surprise move came a day after the prime minister announced sweeping new curbs across much of the Southeast Asian nation, including the closure of most businesses, and warned the health system was ‘at breaking point’.
Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah agreed to declare an emergency until August 1 following a request from prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, the national palace said in a statement.
It is the first time Malaysia has declared a national state of emergency in over half a century and Muhyiddin, in a televised address, confirmed parliament would be suspended and elections would not take place for the time being.
But the leader, whose 10-month-old administration is showing signs of falling apart, insisted that ‘the civilian government will continue to function’.