KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah said on Wednesday the country’s parliament should reconvene as soon as possible, to allow emergency ordinances and a coronavirus recovery plan to be debated by lawmakers.
The king’s remarks come a day after Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said parliament could reopen by September at the earliest, providing that the average number of daily coronavirus infections fall below 2,000.
Parliament was suspended in January after the king declared a national emergency on Muhyiddin’s advice. The opposition said it was an attempt by the premier to shore up his position amid a leadership challenge.
The king in a statement on Wednesday said parliament plays an important role in discussing steps taken by the government to deal with the health and economic crises caused by the coronavirus.
The king also stressed on the need for a “stable and secure government administration” capable of effectively handling the epidemic and restoring the economy.
To this end, the government needs to ease bureaucracy and speed up the vaccinations to ensure the country reaches herd immunity as soon as possible, as vaccination is the sole “exit strategy” from the epidemic, the king said.
In a separate statement, the nine-member conference of rulers – which includes the king – said they do not see a need for the emergency to be extended beyond its Aug. 1 expiry date.
The conference echoed the king’s view on the need for a stable and secure government, and said that all efforts must be made to secure as much public support for inclusive measures to manage COVID-19.
Malaysia has reported 4,142 deaths from the coronavirus. The country has the highest number of infections per capita in Southeast Asia, with more than 673,000 cases recorded.
(Reporting by Joseph Sipalan and Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Martin Petty)