Malaysia declares emergency to curb coronavirus

Malaysia’s king declared a nationwide state of emergency on Tuesday to curb the spread of COVID-19, a move that bolsters Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s precarious hold on power and forestalls any attempt by opponents to force an early election, according to Reuters.

In a televised address on Tuesday, Muhyiddin said the parliament will be suspended for a stipulated period of time and that elections would not be held in the Southeast Asian nation during the emergency, which could last until Aug. 1.

“Let me assure you, the civilian government will continue to function. The emergency proclaimed by the king is not a military coup and curfew will not be enforced,” Muhyiddin said in an attempt to dispel alarm over the measures.

“I give my firm commitment that the general election will be held as soon as an independent special committee to be established declares that the COVID-19 epidemic has subsided or is fully under control and it is safe to hold elections,” he added.

The emergency declaration, which allows the Muhyiddin government to introduce laws without parliamentary approval, comes a day after the premier announced a nationwide travel ban and a 14-day lockdown in the capital Kuala Lumpur and five states.

The healthcare system for the country of 32 million people was at a breaking point, the premier said. The number of new daily infections hit a record high last week, breaching the 3,000 mark. Total coronavirus cases passed 138,000 on Monday, with 555 deaths.


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