Malaysia declares Covid state of emergency until August 1, amid political challenges

Clay Curtis
January 12, 2021

Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah agreed to declare an emergency until August 1 following a request from Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in a Monday meeting, the national palace said in a statement.

"Let me assure you, the civilian government will continue to function".

Muhyiddin said the government will ensure that economic activity will continue during the emergency to ensure that businesses can sustain and the people can still earn an income.

Correspondingly, Muhyiddin stated his commitment that a general election will be held as soon as the Independent Special Committee to be established certifies that the Covid-19 epidemic is under control or has fully recovered and elections are safe to hold.

The prime minister came to power in March past year with a thin majority, but was facing threats from coalition allies to withdraw support for his government, triggering a snap election.

The emergency declaration, which allows the Muhyiddin government to introduce laws without parliamentary approval, comes a day after the premier announced a nationwide travel ban and a 14-day lockdown in the capital Kuala Lumpur and five states.

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Bernama quoted Health Minister Dr Adham Baba as saying earlier today that the Ministry of Health (MOH) has decided, since last January 1, to place asymptomatic and mild Covid-19 patients (Stage 1 and 2) in home quarantine with monitoring by health workers.

Muhyiddin said the national Parliament and all state legislatures will be suspended, and that no election is allowed during the period.

The healthcare system for the country of 32 million people was at a breaking point, the premier said.

Malaysia's economy took a hit from measures taken to curb the epidemic a year ago, posting its first economic contraction in over a decade in the second quarter of 2020. He said the state of emergency is declared in order to empower the King to promulgate ordinances that may facilitate government affairs and overcome any regulations that make it hard to deliver fast, efficient and effective public health services during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong declared that the duration of this emergency declaration will be implemented until 1st August 2021 or until an early time when the number of new daily COVID-19 cases has dropped to a manageable level.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy in which the king has a largely ceremonial role, carrying out his duties with advice from the prime minister and cabinet.

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