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Malaysia’s controversial state of emergency to end


Malaysia’s controversial state of emergency to end

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin

Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan

Despite the Malaysian King’s objection over the constitutionality of the move, Malaysia’s COVID-19 state of emergency will end today.

Critics accuse Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s beleaguered coalition government of using the six-month state of emergency to remain in power. Indeed, a faction of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO)—the largest party in parliament—reportedly left Yassin’s government on July 7. Parliament only reconvened for a five-day session on July 26 but now cut short due to COVID-19—preventing the fractured opposition to muster the numbers for a no-confidence vote.

Expect Yassin’s government to benefit from the splintered opposition and maintain power for the short-term future. However, expect opposition parties to use the King’s objection to attempt to persuade key remaining UMNO leaders in Yassin’s government to defect in the hope of triggering an avalanche of other defections. These leaders include recently promoted Deputy Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri, and internal Security Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein.

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These promotions were Yassin’s attempt to stabilise the coalition, but the real test is in the longer September session of parliament which gives the first real opportunity for a properly organised no-confidence vote. Regardless of outcome, political instability is almost certain to continue in the medium-term.

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