In explaining why Malaysia needed to suspend democracy to fight the epidemic for the first time in half a century, Prime Minister Muheedin Yasin assured the nation not to undertake a military coup.
But his opponents were hard to see as anything but the first nationwide emergency since 1969, but power grabbing. While the Southeast Asian nation has seen an increase in coronovirus cases in recent weeks, along with several other countries, measures to combat the epidemic have generally received widespread support across the political spectrum.
Pakatan Harapan, the leader of the main opposition party in Parliament, said in a statement after the announcement, “Don’t hide behind Kovid-19 and burden the people with the declaration of emergency to protect yourself.”
The only problem easily solved by the Emergency was Muheedin’s political troubles: some of the leading leaders of the ruling coalition, the United Malaysian National Organization (UMNO), had recently called for fresh elections as soon as possible. Now, with Parliament potentially suspended until August, the Prime Minister does not have to worry about any election soon.
While the move brings stability to Malaysia for the first time since a political coalition toppled the coalition government early last year and brought Muiddin to power, it also threatens the country’s democracy. before that In the last election 2018, the same ruling coalition ruled for nearly six decades – often with a heavy-handed strategy that tried to silence the media and opposition leaders.
Malaysia last saw a nationwide emergency in 1969, when the parliament was adjourned for two years due to racial riots between ethnic Malays and Chinese. According to Oh EI Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute, the emergency is now “completely unnecessary”, as there are no criteria to meet and “no sensible MP” from either party to end the epidemic. Will not take steps. International affairs.
He said, “If you are not careful, we will come into a confrontation with parliamentary democracy.” “” This is addictive – future governments will implement the state of emergency once again. “
Investors were cautious following the announcement on Tuesday with the decline in ringgit and the country’s major stock index. A lockdown announced on Monday prompted Fitch Solutions to reduce Malaysia’s 2021 economic growth forecast from 11.5% to 10%, while warning that sanctions could last months.
For the 73-year-old Muheedin, a former UMNO stalwart who has gambled over allegiance in his four-decade political career, it would be a welcome opportunity to consolidate power. Since becoming prime minister in March 2020, he has faced constant pressure from the 12-party alliance and opposition led by Anwar Ibrahim, who has repeatedly claimed the numbers to form the new government.
In October, the King of Malaysia rescinded his baffles to declare a state of emergency, allowing him to avoid a budget vote in Parliament that doubled as a confidence test. But he narrowly survived, and a recent spike in virus cases – reaching a record 3,309 on Tuesday – allowed the king to convince him to grant him emergency powers this time.
“This period of emergency will provide us much needed peace and stability,” Muhtidin said in an address to the nation on Tuesday. He said the decree “is not a military coup and curfew will not be imposed.”
After the emergency, one UMNO legislator became the second in the group to declare in recent days that it was withdrawing support for Muhiddin. The party as a whole was more reserved, with President Ahmed Zahid Hamidi stating that the Prime Minister should use his emergency powers only on measures that involve an epidemic and restore parliamentary practices as soon as possible.
“Muhiddin Yasin is safe now,” said Awang Azman Awang Pavi University of Malaya. “When a state of emergency was declared, the UMNO was investigated because nothing significant could be done during an emergency.”
Muhiddin is unclear on how he will use his new powers. On Tuesday, he warned of possible price controls, greater control over public hospitals and a role for the military and police in implementing public health measures. He also vowed to hold elections once declaring an independent committee that the epidemic had subsided and that it was safe for voters to hold elections.
Whether or not Muhiddin’s Bersatu party will benefit in the next election depends largely on how he handles the virus during the Emergency Rule period. So far, he has failed to find a solution to stop the escalation of cases – a result that ironically laid the foundation for him to enforce the emergency and keep his opponents at bay.
“Without a strategy to address Kovid-19, they are using these levers of power,” said Bridget Welsh, honorary research associate at Asia Research Institute, University of Nottingham Malaysia. “It is a reflection of instability and it will eventually make the rift and division worse in a highly polarized society.”
()Updates with more muhyidein comments in the 11th paragraph)