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Malaysian premier faces calls to resign after palace rebuke

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By Reuters
Malaysian premier faces calls to resign after palace rebuke
Malaysian premier faces calls to resign after palace rebuke   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021
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KUALALUMPUR – Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin faced calls to resign on Thursday from the opposition and the biggest bloc in the ruling coalition, after a rebuke by the king over the government’s handling of emergency ordinances.

Muhyiddin’s government said earlier this week that on July 21 it had revoked all ordinances that had come into effect since a national state of emergency was imposed in January.

King Al-Sultan Abdullah imposed the emergency on the advice of Muhyiddin, who had said it was needed to curb the spread of COVID-19. But critics have slammed the move and accused the premier of trying to cling to power amid a slim majority.

Muhyiddin has governed with a razor-thin majority and led an unstable ruling coalition since coming to power in March 2020.

In a statement on Thursday, the palace said the revocation of the ordinances was done without the king’s consent and thus ran counter to the federal constitution and the principles of law.

“His Majesty is of the opinion that as head of state, he has the responsibility to present advice and criticism if an act by any party contravenes the Federal Constitution, especially in carrying out the functions and powers of His Majesty as the King,” the palace said.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy in which the king has a largely ceremonial role, carrying out his duties on advice from the prime minister and cabinet. But the monarch also has the power to decide if an emergency should be declared.

The UMNO party, the biggest bloc in the ruling alliance, called on Muhyiddin to resign for disobeying the king’s decree to debate the emergency ordinances in parliament and revoking them without his consent.

“This was a clear act of treason towards the King, and goes against the principles of the Federal Constitution,” UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in a statement.

Muhyiddin’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim told a news conference at parliament that he had filed a motion of no confidence in Muhyiddin’s leadership, and claimed a majority of lawmakers no longer supported the prime minister.