KUALA LUMPUR: The embattled leader of Malaysia has been accused of treason and urged to resign on Thursday after the king condemned his crisis-hit government for misleading parliament. This is a rare public condemnation by the respected monarch.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin led a scandal-stricken coalition that seized power without an election last year, but his government is on the verge of collapse after allies withdrew support.
The parliament convened this week after being suspended for several months under a virus emergency. Critics said it was Muhyiddin’s attempt to stay in power.
On Monday, the Minister of Law announced that the state of emergency will end on August 1st and that several regulations issued under the state of emergency will be cancelled.
But rival lawmakers were furious, claiming that Muhyiddin just wanted to avoid the debate-it is unclear whether the monarch agreed to revoke the emergency law as required by the constitution.
On Thursday, the Royal Palace confirmed that King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmed Shah did not agree and stated that he was “very disappointed.”
A statement from the palace said that the announcement regarding the cancellation of the regulations was “inaccurate and confused the parliamentarians”.
It “not only fails to respect the principle of legal sovereignty…but also undermines His Majesty’s functions and powers as head of state,” it said.
It is unusual for the constitutional monarch of Malaysia, widely respected in a Muslim-majority country, to oppose the government so strongly.
After the royal statement was issued, an uproar broke out in the legislature, and the opposition made calls for “treason” and “resignation”.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim urged Muhyiddin to resign because his government “violated the constitution, insulted the constitutional monarchy and confused the parliament”.
The Prime Minister did not react immediately, and it is not clear whether this reprimand will have any impact.
Regulations promulgated under emergencies give the authorities additional powers to punish violations of virus rules, as well as other tools to fight the pandemic.
Even if the emergency is over, the country will still be under strict lockdown because it faces a worsening epidemic.