Malaysian Opposition MPs March to Parliament, Demand PM Quit
(Bloomberg) -- Malaysian opposition lawmakers marched toward the parliament building in Kuala Lumpur to demand Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s resignation on Monday, after officials postponed the day’s sitting indefinitely to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the house.
With the main road cordoned off, opposition lawmakers began assembling by a field about a mile away before they walked to the building chanting “Step down, Muhyiddin”. Security was beefed up in the hours ahead of the gathering, with police in riot gear and increased roadblocks at the main entrances to the building.
“We are gathered here to say that, in terms of the numbers of MPs, Muhyiddin’s government has fallen today,” opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said. He said some parties had come up with a list requesting to leave the government line-up. “Hence, with the 107 here today, plus them, the government has collapsed.” Anwar later called for the gathering to disperse after police blocked them from entering the building.
Malaysia’s parliament sat for the first time this year last week, but was suspended again shortly after the king on Thursday publicly rebuked a government minister for misleading the house on the status of emergency laws. Health-Director General on Sunday said the building was at high-risk of a spread in infections after the discovery of positive cases last week.
The opposition, which has filed a motion of no-confidence against Muhyiddin, said the Covid risk is an “excuse” to adjourn Monday’s sitting. Health groups have said parliament can still function if virus protocols are followed.
“Muhyiddin is pretty much in command in terms of controlling the levers of power, but the crisis is definitely a serious one and his legitimacy is almost zero,” said Johan Saravanamuttu, an adjunct senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
The five-day session that was initially scheduled to end today was meant to provide lawmakers a chance to grill Muhyiddin over his government’s handling of the pandemic. Public anger against him has risen as new Covid cases have more than tripled to a record since the emergency was imposed in January.
Hundreds of protesters, largely dressed in black, gathered in the capital Kuala Lumpur on Saturday calling for the resignation of Muhyiddin, a full parliamentary session and an automatic loan moratorium for all.
“These days with Covid, how much protests can go on? You have the youth going out and they have all these groups out there, but can you mount enough of a situation to create a political crisis that would cause the government to shut down?” Saravanamuttu said.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.