Bangkok Desk, Jan 12 (efe-epa).- Malaysia’s king has declared a six-month state of emergency to curb a surge in Covid-19 cases, the palace announced on Tuesday.
The decision was made after a 45-minute meeting between the king – Sultan Abdullah of Pahang – and Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday night at the national palace.
“Sultan Abdullah is of the view that the transmission of the Covid-19 epidemic in the country is at a very critical level and there is a need to declare a Proclamation of Emergency based on Clause (1) Article 150 of the Federal Constitution,” a statement by palace comptroller Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said.
The clause states that if the Malaysian king is satisfied that a grave emergency exists whereby the security, economic life or public order is threatened, he may issue a proclamation of emergency.
On Monday, Covid-19 cases in Malaysia rose by 2,232 to reach 138,224 cumulative infections and 555 deaths. Last week figures hit a record high with more than 3,000 cases in one day.
The emergency period will last until Aug. 1 or earlier if infection rates are controlled and lowered.
The king also took into account logistical constraints currently experienced by health facilities.
The statement said that 15 hospitals had reported bed usage (excluding ICU) of over 70 percent for Covid-19 patients, with 100 percent usage of ICU beds for Covid-19 patients at Kuala Lumpur Hospital and University of Malaya Medical Centre, and 83 percent usage at Sungai Buloh Hospital. The usage of ICU beds for Covid-19 patients in Perak, Selangor, Melaka, Terengganu and Sarawak now exceeds 70 percent.
The state of emergency also serves to maintain the political stability of the country at a time that fissures are showing between parties in the governing coalition, which maintains a fragile majority in the legislature.
Muhyiddin said Tuesday that parliament and the regional legislative assemblies will not meet, and general, state and by-elections will not be held during the stipulated period of time. A general election can be held if a new independent Covid advisory committee now to be set up recommends that the country has recovered sufficiently from the epidemic, he added. EFE-EPA