UncategorizedMalaysian parliament to sit this month after Covid suspension

Malaysian parliament to sit this month after Covid suspension

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Malaysia’s parliament will sit this month after being suspended in January under a coronavirus emergency, the government said Monday, following criticism the embattled premier was using the crisis to cling to power.

The king declared a nationwide state of emergency at the start of the year on the advice of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to fight an escalating Covid-19 outbreak.

Parliament was suspended at the same time, leading critics to charge Muhyiddin — who took office last year — was using the emergency to shore up his weak coalition and avoid a no-confidence vote.

But anger mounted sharply, and even the king himself recently called for the legislature to reconvene before the emergency officially ends in August to debate the government’s pandemic response.

The prime minister’s office said in a statement the government had agreed to a five-day sitting of the lower house of parliament from July 26.

The sitting will center on the government’s recovery plans, and changes on how future parliament sessions can be held during the pandemic.

The upper house will also sit for several days. Parliament’s last session — during which Muhyiddin’s government narrowly managed to pass its budget — ended in December.

Analysts downplayed the chance of anything dramatic happening at the short parliament sitting, however.

“It would appear that Muhyiddin is now convinced that he commands a parliamentary majority,” said Oh Ei Sun, an analyst at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, although he added the picture could change in coming weeks.

James Chin, a Malaysia expert from the University of Tasmania, said opposition lawmakers would use the session “to embarrass the government as much as possible over” the pandemic — but predicted it would not lead to a change of government.

Muhyiddin seized power in March last year without an election after the collapse of a reformist government led by veteran politician Mahathir Mohamad, 95.

Malaysia’s outbreak has been gradually worsening in recent months — total cases now stand at over 700,000, and over 5,400 deaths — and the whole country was placed under a tough lockdown at the start of June.

Debayan Paul
Debayan is a freelance digital reporter and Editor-in-chief of We The World Magazine. Contact: communications@wetheworldmagazine.com

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