Malaysia will not extend state of emergency, says justice minister

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 (Reuters) – Malaysia will not extend a national state of emergency for several months when it ends on August 1, Justice Minister Takiyuddin Hassan said on Monday.

The Southeast Asian country has been under an emergency regime since January, with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin saying there was a need to curb the spread of COVID-19. But critics slammed the move and accused the prime minister of trying to cling to power amid a narrow majority.

Despite the emergency and strict lockdowns, the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia has only gotten worse, sparking public anger.

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Malaysia reported a record number of cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of infections to more than one million. Its per capita infection rate is the highest in the region.

Minister Takiyuddin said the government would not ask the king to extend the state of emergency. He was speaking in parliament, which had been suspended due to the emergency but called for an extraordinary session on Monday.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy in which the king plays a largely ceremonial role, carrying out his duties with the advice of the prime minister and the cabinet. But the monarch also has the power to decide whether an emergency should be declared.

Muhyiddin has ruled with a wafer-thin majority and led a shaky ruling coalition since coming to power in March 2020.

The UMNO party, Malaysia’s largest political party and a key coalition ally, withdrew its support for Muhyiddin earlier this month.

Nevertheless, Malaysia’s attorney general said the withdrawal would not affect the position of Muhyiddin or his cabinet, as the question of his chamber’s majority can only be determined by parliament. Read more

The current special session of Parliament will last for five days. So far, there is no indication that a vote of confidence will be called.

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Reporting by Liz Lee; written by A. Ananthalakshmi Editing by Ed Davies

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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