Malaysia’s PM Faces Legal Challenge From Anwar Over Parliament Suspension

Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim mounted a legal challenge against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin over the premier’s advice to the king to suspend parliament throughout the duration of the pandemic-related emergency.

The opposition leader is seeking a court declaration that the advice is unlawful and unconstitutional, Anwar’s lawyer Ramkarpal Singh said in a statement Tuesday. He filed for a judicial review on Monday at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, with Muhyiddin and the Malaysian government named as respondents.

“This year, the PN government wishes to avoid parliament again, hiding behind an unnecessary emergency declaration,” Anwar said in a video he shared on Twitter. “The result will inevitably be the needless and prolonged suffering of the Malaysian people.”

Malaysia suspended democracy for the first time in half a century earlier this month to give Muhyiddin’s administration more power to tackle a surge in Covid-19 cases. The emergency period, which could last until Aug. 1, allows the government to bypass parliament in enacting laws.

The country last saw a nationwide emergency in 1969, when racial riots between the ethnic Malays and Chinese led to the suspension of parliament for two years.

The lawsuit isn’t challenging the declaration of emergency, but Muhyiddin’s decision to advise the monarch to stop parliament from sitting during the period of the emergency, according to the statement. A date for the hearing has yet to be determined.

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