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Malaysia declares state of emergency, suspends Parliament

Emergency will last until Aug 1 as Covid-19 cases hit record high

KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysia reported a record 3,309 coronavirus cases after a state of emergency was announced by King Abdullah Ahmad Shah yesterday to tackle the spread.

Noting that beds and intensive care slots at hospitals for Covid-19 patients were nearly full, the King approved the emergency powers for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's administration as a "proactive move to control and flatten daily Covid-19 positive cases that have breached four figures continuously since December".

The emergency is set to last until Aug 1.

In a televised address yesterday, Tan Sri Muhyiddin said Parliament will be suspended for a stipulated period of time and that elections would not be held during the emergency.

"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," Mr Muhyiddin said in an attempt to dispel alarm over the measures.

He also gave his commitment that elections would be held as soon as it was safe to do so.

Mr Muhyiddin said the emergency order also means the King can make the necessary decrees to tackle the pandemic, including ordering private healthcare facilities to be taken over by the government if public hospitals are stretched.

Under the emergency, the military can be given powers to help carry out functions related to public health, he said, adding that the police can also be given extra powers.

The move should reduce some of the political uncertainty after some lawmakers in the ruling coalition pulled support for the premier and called for early elections, saying his government has collapsed.

Opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan accused Mr Muhyiddin of using the pandemic to avoid the collapse and questioned the need for an emergency, saying existing laws were sufficient to tackle the virus' spread.

The emergency, 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. Total coronavirus cases passed 141,000 with 559 deaths. - THE STAR, REUTERS, THE STRAITS TIMES

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