Malaysian King Al-Sultan Abdullah has been receiving praise for taking on an active role in political affairs during the coronavirus pandemic.
The monarch recently rejected Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s request to impose an emergency ruling to declare a state of emergency due to COVID-19, which has restored society’s faith in the Malaysian King.
Constitutional lawyers and political analysts say Al-Sultan Abdullah could play a key role in resolving political instability as the prime minister would have been granted the power to suspend parliament and bring down the government if a state of emergency was declared.
The crown prince Tunku Ismail Idris stated that “the current situation is a clear indication of what would happen when power to rule is left entirely to politicians.”
The government believes that the prime minister is able to handle crises surrounding the pandemic but the monarch is willing to risk government stability at this point in time.
Muhyiddin has “sparked national outrage, with critics slamming the move as an undemocratic means for him to hang on to power amid challenges to his leadership.”
The prime minister gave a brief statement reassuring that “the priority of the Cabinet and the government at this time is to protect citizens from the COVID-19 disease” and welcomes the king’s advice to ensure government stability.
The Bar Council, the medical association, along with other groups have said that a declaration of emergency is not necessary as there are already social distancing and lockdown measures in place.
With only a two-seat majority, Muhyiddin has left little faith for the monarch to place support in his party. Many are frightened that the country could fall into an economically detrimental dictatorship under his rule.
The government is waiting to seek approval for their 2021 budget but if unable to pass the bill, “pressure will build for him to resign or call new elections. A state of emergency could allow him to delay that vote and consolidate support” reported the Japan Times.
The Malaysian monarch system allows sultans to assume the role of a king every five years; after his father’s abdication, Al-Sultan Abdullah continues carrying an approachable demeanor and taking an active role during this unprecedented time.
The rejection of this emergency request to fight the new outbreak of coronavirus has boosted the king’s political and social image as a second wave of COVID-19 sweeps the globe.
The capital Kuala Lumpur has extended a partial lockdown as case numbers have doubled within the last month. On Monday the health ministry reported 1,240 cases which is the highest daily rise since March.
Malaysia has reported a total of 29,441 active COVID-19 cases, 19,072 recoveries, and 246 deaths to date. Monarch Al-Sultan Abdullah is now taking on the social and political responsibility to lower numbers as 2021 approaches.
By Surina Nath