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Malaysia prime minister faces calls to resign after emergency request

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is under criticism for pushing for a declaration of a state of emergency amid the coroanvirus pandemic. File Photo by Fazry Ismail/EPA-EFE
Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is under criticism for pushing for a declaration of a state of emergency amid the coroanvirus pandemic. File Photo by Fazry Ismail/EPA-EFE

Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Malaysia's prime minister is encountering calls for his resignation after only eight months in power over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who was sworn into office March 1 after former Premier Mahathir Mohammad's resignation, had requested the declaration of a state of emergency from the King of Malaysia, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, the Malay Mail and Singapore's Straits Times reported Monday.

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Muhyiddin's request has upset ruling and opposition politicians. An emergency decree would've suspend Malaysia's Parliament ahead of a budget vote in November, according to reports.

Sultan Abdullah rejected Muhyiddin's request, which opponents see as an attempt to stay in power, as the local economy has suffered setbacks.

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"Al-Sultan Abdullah is of the opinion that there is no need at the moment for His Majesty to declare an emergency in the country or in any part of the country of Malaysia," the palace said in a statement.

"His Majesty is confident in the ability of the government under the leadership of the prime minister to continue to implement policies and enforcement efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Politicians could be less certain about Muhyiddin's ability to govern, however. The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, led by the United Malays National Organization -- Malaysia's second-biggest party after the Democratic Action Party -- has been discussing replacing the prime minister, according to the Straits Times.

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During a meeting Monday, the ruling coalition discussed "views to retract support for Muhyiddin," according to UMNO supreme council member Zahidi Zainul Abidin. At the same time, the group is opposed to yielding greater power to the "Chinese-dominated DAP," the report says.

Muhyiddin's other challenge comes from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar leads a political pact that includes the DAP. The opposition has been accused of undermining the interests of Malaysia's majority. UMNO is a Malay-Muslim party.

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