Malaysian King Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin has rejected Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's proposal to declare a state of emergency to deal with a surge in coronavirus cases, the palace said Sunday.
"Al-Sultan Abdullah is of the opinion that there is no need at this moment for His Majesty to declare an emergency in the country or any part of Malaysia," Ahmad Fadil Shamsudin, comptroller of the royal household, said in a statement.
The decision was made after the king held a meeting with Malay hereditary rulers earlier Sunday to consider the proposal submitted by Muhyiddin to the monarch last Friday after his Cabinet had endorsed the move.
Since word leaked Friday that the prime minister was considering implementing a state of emergency, there has been a strong public backlash.
Detractors of the prime minister believed he was using the pandemic as an excuse to hold on to power as he could potentially face a no-confidence vote in the lower house of the parliament when it begins its year-end meeting on Nov. 2.
Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Ali Biju indicated in a statement Sunday that the government's emergency plan would not involve military rule or curfews, but only the suspension of parliament.
"Only parliament would be suspended, political activities limited and wannabe superheroes cannot get to spook anyone with their strong, convincing and formidable superpowers," he said.
He was alluding to opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's claim that there has been a shift in allegiance among lawmakers, and he now has "formidable and convincing" backing to form a new government.
Anwar and his supporters plan to use the tabling of the 2021 budget in parliament on Nov. 6 as a proxy no-confidence vote against Muhyiddin as there were rumblings that disgruntled lawmakers from the premier's ruling coalition would join the opposition to reject the budget.
But there was also speculation that Muhyiddin may pre-empt the budget vote by calling for a snap poll. But, with the country facing a third wave of the coronavirus, voters are wary of risking infection to head to the polls, thus the move to declare a state of emergency.
Muhyiddin's grip on power is tenuous as he holds razor-thin support from only 113 lawmakers out of the 222 in the House of Representatives, the lower house of the parliament, but the palace is throwing him a lifeline.
King Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin warned lawmakers to stop undermining the current government and signaled to them to support the proposed budget for next year.
"Al-Sultan Abdullah also viewed that there is no need for any Members of Parliament to continue with their irresponsible action that could threaten the stability of the current government," Ahmad Fadil said.
"His Majesty stressed that the 2021 budget that will be tabled in the parliament is very important to the people in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and for economic recovery," he added.