Malaysia's king declares state of emergency to curb spread of Covid-19

Medical personnel collect swab samples from a man for coronavirus testing in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on January 11.

Malaysia's king declared a nationwide state of emergency on Tuesday to curb the spread of Covid-19, a move that bolsters Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's precarious hold on power, and forestalls any attempt by opponents to force an early election.

In a televised address on Tuesday, Muhyiddin said the parliament will be suspended for a stipulated period of time, and that elections would not be held during the emergency, which could last until August 1.
"Let me assure you, the civilian government will continue to function. The emergency proclaimed by the king is not a military coup and curfew will not be enforced," Muhyiddin said, in an attempt to dispel alarm over the measures.
    An electronic shop worker watches a live broadcast of Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on January 12.
    The move should reduce, at least for now, some of the political uncertainty hovering over Muhyiddin since his unelected alliance came to power with a razor thin majority in March, following the collapse of the previous coalition led by veteran leader Mahathir Mohamad
    Some lawmakers in the ruling coalition have pulled support for the premier and have called for early elections, while opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said last year that he had a majority to form a new government.
    Muhyiddin assured people that elections would take place once a new independent committee declares that the pandemic is over and it is safe to hold polls.