Malaysia’s king yesterday declared a nationwide state of emergency to fight a COVID-19 surge and parliament was suspended, with critics charging it was a bid by the unstable government to cling to power.
The surprise move came a day after Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced sweeping new curbs across much of the nation, including the closure of most businesses, and warned the health system was “at breaking point.”
Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah agreed to declare an emergency until Aug. 1 following a request from Muhyiddin, the national palace said in a statement.
It is the first time Malaysia has declared a national state of emergency in more than half a century and Muhyiddin, in a televised address, confirmed parliament would be suspended and elections would not take place for the time being.
However, the leader, whose 10-month-old administration is showing signs of falling apart, insisted that “the civilian government will continue to function.”
“The emergency declaration ... is not a military coup and a curfew will not be enforced,” he said.
He insisted he was committed to holding a general election once the country’s outbreak is brought under control.
The announcement came after Muhyiddin’s key coalition allies started withdrawing support, which could have led to the collapse of the government and snap national polls that some feared could worsen the outbreak.
A local election last year has been blamed for triggering a new wave of infections that spread nationwide.
Muhyiddin has narrowly survived a series of challenges in parliament since taking office, but is now thought to have lost his majority.
The Pact of Hope opposition alliance, which includes former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, said the move was unacceptable as the partial lockdown announced earlier in the week was enough to tackle the virus.
“The emergency powers give the prime minister absolute power to do anything he wishes,” the pact’s leaders said in a statement. “Do not hide behind the coronavirus and burden the people by declaring an emergency in a bid to save yourself.”
As well as suspending political life, the declaration gives the government powers to take over private hospitals as government facilities become overwhelmed, and get extra help from the military and police, Muhyiddin said.
The emergency could be lifted earlier if the rate of infection slows, the palace said.
A record 3,309 cases were reported yesterday, taking the total to more than 141,000 with 559 deaths.
Muhyiddin first tried to persuade the king to declare an emergency in October last year, but was rebuffed.
The last time an emergency was declared nationally was in 1969, in response to deadly racial riots.
NO CONNECTION: Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang said the CECC has linked no deaths so far to the AstraZeneca vaccine Eleven people in the nation have died after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, but the deaths should not deter older people with chronic health conditions from getting vaccinated. Nine of the deaths — people aged 65 to 97 — took place three hours to one day after the AstraZeneca vaccine was given, the center said, while eight of the 11 deaths were people aged 75 or older, most of whom had chronic health conditions. On Wednesday, the center said that 12 more people — seven women and five men aged 42 to 97 at
HELPING HAND: Vaccine eligibility can likely be widened to cover pregnant women now that the nation has more vaccine doses than it planned for, Chen Shih-chung said Taiwan yesterday received a shipment of 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses donated by the US, obtaining its largest single batch of vaccines since the COVID-19 pandemic began early last year. A cargo plane of Taiwanese national carrier China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) carrying the Moderna Inc vaccines landed at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at about 4:30pm, after leaving Memphis, Tennessee, early on Saturday, US time. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) and American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen were at the airport to welcome the plane. The vaccines were transported to a cold chain logistics center, where they would be inspected
‘NO STRINGS ATTACHED’: The US is donating the shots without any political or economic conditions, and with the singular aim of saving lives, a senior US official said The US was yesterday to ship 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan, a senior US administration official told Reuters, more than tripling Washington’s previous allocation of shots for the nation. Washington, competing with Beijing to deepen geopolitical clout through so-called “vaccine diplomacy,” had initially promised to donate 750,000 doses to Taiwan, but is increasing that number as US President Joe Biden’s administration advances its pledge to send 80 million US-made shots around the world. The 2.5 million donated doses of the Moderna Inc vaccine would leave Memphis, Tennessee, on a flight belonging to Taiwan’s national carrier, China Airlines Ltd (中華航空), early
VULNERABLE: The CECC has been moving older infected people or those with underlying health conditions, who were in isolation, to hospitals for better health monitoring The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 75 locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, the lowest daily count since the nationwide level 3 alert was issued last month. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said the 75 local infections are 35 males and 40 females, aged from under five to over 80, and they began experiencing symptoms between June 8 and Sunday. New Taipei City reported 38 cases, followed by Taipei with 22, Taoyuan with five, Miaoli County with three, Keelung and Taichung with two each, and Kaohsiung, Yunlin County and Changhua County with one each, CECC