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Thursday, January 14, 2021, 18:11
Malaysia's opposition leader to seek king's assent to end emergency
By Reuters
Thursday, January 14, 2021, 18:11 By Reuters

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, prepares for a press conference after meeting the king in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Oct 13, 2020.  (VINCENT THIAN / AP)

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said on Thursday he would submit an appeal to the king to end a state of emergency imposed to fight the coronavirus, which he described as a move by the prime minister to cling to power.

Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah on Tuesday declared a national state of emergency to curb the spread of the virus and suspended parliament, which the opposition said was Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s ploy to retain control amid a power struggle.

The prime minister is more focused on efforts to cling to power.

Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia's opposition leader

In a letter sent to federal lawmakers seeking their support, Anwar accused Muhyiddin and the government of misleading the king when presenting their proposal for an emergency declaration, as provisions under existing laws were sufficient to contain the spread.

ALSO READ: Malaysia's PM accused of power grab after parliament suspended

“The prime minister is more focused on efforts to cling to power,” Anwar said in the letter, which was shared with media by his office.

The prime minister’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a separate statement, Anwar said he hoped the king would exercise his wisdom in rescinding the emergency declaration and call for parliament to convene on Jan 31 to discuss the emergency declaration, the pandemic and the ensuing economic fallout.

This was the first time the Southeast Asian nation has been placed under emergency rule in over 50 years, and only the second time parliament has been suspended since independence from Britain in 1957.

READ MORE: M'sia emergency suspends house for first time since 1969

The emergency declaration, which could last until Aug 1, came just a day after Muhyiddin announced a nationwide travel ban and coronavirus lockdowns in the capital and five states.

Muhyiddin has grappled with a razor-thin parliamentary majority and infighting in his ruling coalition since becoming premier in March. Two lawmakers from a coalition partner withdrew support in recent days, wiping out his majority.

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