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Malaysia declares state of emergency

The Independent logo The Independent 13/1/2021 Obbana Rajah
Muhyiddin Yassin wearing a suit and tie © The Independent Singapore

There has been a surge in Covid-19 cases in Malaysia that is threatening to overwhelm hospitals, prompting the Malaysian King to declare on Tuesday a nationwide state of emergency.

A statement from the Royal Palace said the King had agreed to the declaration following a meeting on Monday with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

The emergency will remain in force until August 1, or earlier if there is a fall in the number of Covid-19 cases, the statement said.

On Monday night, Mr Muhyiddin had announced a lockdown from midnight in Kuala Lumpur and the states of Sabah, Selangor, Penang and Johor. The lockdown will remain in force for two weeks until January 26. He warned that the health system was “at breaking point”.

Under emergency rule, the government can introduce laws without parliamentary approval. The Prime Minister said, however, that “the civilian government will continue to function”.

“The emergency declaration… is not a military coup and a curfew will not be enforced,” he said.

Mr Muhyiddin added that he would be holding a general election once the Covid-19 outbreak in the country was under control.

Malaysia brought an earlier wave of Covid-19 cases under control with a three-month lockdown last year. The people were mostly prevented from leaving their homes. The curbs were gradually eased as the number of cases dwindled. In July last year, the authorities announced that there were no new cases of local transmission.

However, the situation began to change in September.

The country has so far reported more than 138,000 virus cases and 555 deaths. /TISG

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