Malaysian PM digs in after royal rebuke sparks calls for him to quit

King's criticism over Malaysian PM misleading Parliament sparks fresh calls for him to quit

KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin defended his actions yesterday as he faced calls to quit after rare criticism from the King, who accused his government of misleading Parliament over coronavirus laws.

Parliament convened this week after a months-long suspension due to the emergency .

On Monday, the Law Minister told the legislature the emergency would end on Aug 1.

The government said that on July 21, it had revoked all ordinances that had come into effect since a state of emergency was imposed in January.

The regulations enacted under the emergency give the authorities extra powers to punish virus rule-breakers and other tools to fight the pandemic.

But angry rival MPclaimed Mr Muhyiddin was just seeking to dodge a vote that could test his support - and it was not clear the monarch had agreed to revoke the laws, as required under the Constitution.

Yesterday the Royal Palace confirmed that the King, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, had not given his consent, and said that he expressed his "great disappointment".

The announcement about cancelling the regulations was "inaccurate and confused Members of Parliament", said a statement from the palace.

It "did not just fail to respect the principles of the sovereignty of the law... but it undermined the functions and powers of His Majesty as head of state", it said.

It is unusual for Malaysia's constitutional monarch, who is widely revered, to speak so forcefully against the government.

Mr Muhyiddin was accused of treason and faced calls from the opposition and some members of his own coalition to quit.

But his office released a statement outlining discussions between the government and the monarch over the regulations, and insisted there had been no need for a parliamentary vote on the laws.

"The government is of the view that all these actions taken are in order and in accordance with the provisions of the law and the federal Constitution," it said, adding people should "remain calm".

Umno, the biggest bloc in the ruling alliance, called on Mr Muhyiddin to resign for disobeying the King. Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Mr Muhyiddin's actions were a "clear act of treason towards the King". - AFP, REUTERS