KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s king urged lawmakers on Wednesday to put aside political disagreements to pass the 2021 budget “without disturbance”, as Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin grapples with the coronavirus crisis and a leadership challenge.
Muhyiddin’s administration is scheduled to present its first budget on Nov. 6, amid a challenge for the premiership by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and at a time when his credibility is seen to have taken a hit after a failed attempt to secure royal assent to declare emergency rule.
King Al-Sultan Abdullah said next year’s budget is vital in helping the public manage the effects of the coronavirus and restore the economy.
In a statement, the national palace said the king also called on lawmakers to abide by his decree for an end to all political disagreements “so that the 2021 Budget can be passed without disturbance”.
“His Majesty reminds MPs that political fights for personal interest will be a loss to the nation and the people will be come victims at a time when the country is still struggling to face the threat of COVID-19,” the palace said in the statement.
Opposition leaders said they could support the budget if the government grants equal access for all lawmakers to resources and avenues to provide input, and carries out democratic reforms.
Wong Chen, a lawmaker with Anwar’s People’s Justice Party, said in a post on Facebook that the reforms should include establishing “an unfettered right” to table a motion of no confidence in parliament.
Parliament Speaker Azhar Harun said more than 16 motions of no confidence in Muhyiddin’s leadership have been filed for the upcoming meeting, the Utusan Malaysia daily reported.
Muhyiddin, who has a thin majority in parliament, is also under pressure from unhappy coalition partners who have demanded more powerful positions, while a resurgence in coronavirus infections is battering the economy.
But Muhyiddin gained some respite on Monday when a key ally walked back on threats to withdraw support.
(Reporting by Joseph Sipalan and Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Kim Coghill & Simon Cameron-Moore)