COVID emergency halts election in Malaysia, suspend Parlament

Malaysia’s king approved suspention of the parliament, stops political reprieve for embattled Prime Minister: “not a military coup and curfew will not be enforced”

The flag of Malaysia, also known as Malay: Jalur Gemilang (Stripes of Glory) was first raised on 16 September 1963, originated from the flag of the Federation of Malaya. Crescent and star – represents Islam as the official religion for the Federation, as yellow symbolises sovereignty of the Malay Rulers.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s king Sultan Abdullah of Pahang Tuesday approved a coronavirus emergency that will suspend parliament at least until August and halt any bids to seek a general election in a political reprieve for embattled Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, AP reported.

Muhyiddin assured citizens in a televised speech that the emergency was “not a military coup and curfew will not be enforced.” He said his civilian government will remain in charge during the emergency, that will last until Aug. 1 or earlier depending on the situation.

The emergency declaration came as a surprise just a day after Muhyiddin announced that Malaysia’s biggest city Kuala Lumpur, the administrative capital Putrajaya and five high-risk states will return to a near-lockdown from Wednesday for two weeks.

It also comes amid threats by the United Malays National Organization, the largest party in the ruling coalition, to withdraw support from Muhyiddin so an early general election could be held. Many in UMNO are unhappy that the party is playing second fiddle to Muhyiddin’s own Malay party.

Muhyiddin said he will call a general election once the pandemic has eased when it is safe to hold polls.

On 25 October 2020, Sultan Abdullah of Pahang, in his capacity as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, rejected Prime Minister Muhyiddin’s request for him to declare a state of emergency in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases throughout Malaysia.

Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said most people could understand the need for movement curbs but an emergency declaration appeared overblown as it is unclear how that could help slow the virus spread.

Malaysia last declared an emergency in 1969 after bloody racial riots that killed hundreds. The king, which can declare a state of emergency that allows the country to be governed through ordinances that cannot be challenged in court, had in October rejected Muhyiddin’s request to declare an emergency.

King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said at the time that existing laws were sufficient to halt the virus spread. But in a palace statement, the monarch said he took into account public safety and the country’s best interest in giving his consent after meeting Muhyiddin late Monday.

Malaysia’s virus cases have spiraled from just over 15,000 three (3) months ago to 138,224, including 555 deaths.

Malaysia shares a border with Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia with the federal constitutional monarchy, that gained independence from the UK in 1957 as of Malaya. Malaya united with North BorneoSarawak, and Singapore on 16 September 1963 to become Malaysia. In 1965, Singapore was expelled from the federation.

The percentage distribution of Malaysian population by religion based on 2010 census.

The constitution grants freedom of religion and makes Malaysia an officially secular state, while establishing Islam as the “religion of the Federation”. Muslims are obliged to follow the decisions of Syariah Courts (i.e. Shariah courts) in matters concerning their religion. The Islamic judges are expected to follow the Shafi’i legal school of Islam, which is the main madh’hab of Malaysia. The Malaysian constitution strictly defines what makes a “Malay”, considering Malays those who are Muslim, speak Malay regularly, practise Malay customs, and lived in or have ancestors from Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore. 

The country has developed into a centre of Islamic banking.

Freedom of the press is limited, with numerous restrictions on publishing rights and information dissemination. Malaysia’s main newspapers are owned by the government and political parties in the ruling coalition. 

Malaysia shares a border with Thailand, SingaporeVietnam, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines and Vietnam. Kuala Lumpur is the national capital and largest city while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. With a population of over 32 million, Malaysia is the world’s 43rd-most populous country.

Malaysia is the 66th largest country by total land area, with a land area of 329,613 km2

About two thirds of Malaysia was covered in forest as of 2007, with some forests believed to be 130 million years old. 

Malaysia’s economy in 2014–2015 was one of the most competitive in Asia, ranking 6th in Asia and 20th in the world, higher than countries like Australia, France and South Korea. In 2014, Malaysia’s economy grew 6%, the 2nd highest growth in ASEAN behind the Philippines’ growth of 6.1%. The economy of Malaysia in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) at purchasing power parity (PPP) in April 2019 was estimated to be $999.397 Billion, the 3rd largest in ASEAN and the 25th largest in the world.

Malaysia’s road network is one of the most comprehensive in Asia and covers a total of 144,403 kilometres (89,728 mi). Malaysia has 118 airports, Kuala Lumpur International Airport was the world’s 20th busiest airport by passenger traffic, recording over 48.9 million passengers. 

According to a HSBC report, Malaysia will become the world’s 21st largest economy by 2050, with a GDP of $1.2 trillion (Year 2000 dollars) and a GDP per capita of $29,247 (Year 2000 dollars).

Between 2013 and 2014, Malaysia has been listed as one of the best places to retire to in the world, with the country in third position on the Global Retirement Index. This in part was the result of the Malaysia My Second Home programme to allow foreigners to live in the country on a long-stay visa for up to 10 years. In 2016, Malaysia ranked the 5th position on The World’s Best Retirement Havens while getting in the 1st place as the best place in Asia to retire. A warm climate combined with a British colonial background makes it easy for foreigners to interact with locals.

Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah (b.1959), the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong (monarch) of Malaysia

Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah (born 30 July 1959) is the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong (monarch) of Malaysia and the 6th sultan of Pahang. He was proclaimed as Sultan on 15 January 2019, succeeding his father, Sultan Ahmad Shah, whose abdication was decided at a Royal Council meeting on 11 January. 

He went to Aldenham SchoolElstree Hertfordshire – Advance School from 1975 until 1978 and Davis College, London – Advance School from 1978 to 1979. He also attended The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst from 1979 to 1980 as well as Worcester College Oxford and Queen Elizabeth College, receiving a Diploma in International Relations and Diplomacy upon his graduation in 1981.

Executive power is vested in the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister. The prime minister must be a member of the House of Representatives, who in the opinion of His Majesty the King, commands the support of a majority of members. The Cabinet is chosen from members of both houses of Parliament. The Prime Minister is both the head of cabinet and the head of government. As a result of the 2018 general election Malaysia was governed by the Pakatan Harapan political alliance, however on 24 February 2020 Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad resigned.

Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin

On 1 March 2020, a new coalition governed Malaysia led by a new 8th Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. He was formally appointed and sworn in on 1 March 2020 shortly before becoming prominent in Malaysia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.