Malaysian opposition seeks end to emergency

Students wearing masks walk past a classroom at a secondary school, as schools reopen amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Shah Alam, Malaysia

Malaysian opposition lawmakers led by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad submitted a petition to the country’s king on Tuesday seeking an end to a coronavirus emergency so Parliament can resume.

The king approved Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s plan for an emergency in early January to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but critics said it was a political ruse to help the embattled leader stay in power amid challenges to his leadership.

The emergency involves no curfew or military powers but Parliament is suspended until Aug. 1. Muhyiddin’s government remains in control and has extraordinary powers to introduce laws without parliamentary approval.

Mahathir, 95, accused Muhyiddin of using the king’s name as a shield against critics, making many Malays angry with the monarch instead. He told reporters outside the palace gate that he hopes the king will heed the people’s voices. More than 39,000 Malaysians have signed an online petition since March for the king to end the emergency.

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