Malaysia’s prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Tuesday his cabinet would discuss holding a debate in parliament to repeal emergency virus laws, amid opposition calls to resign over allegations he disrespected the Southeast Asian country’s king.
Muhyiddin has been under pressure from opposition parties to debate the move in parliament after his government initially revoked emergency laws, designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, without seeking prior consent from the palace.
“This proposal will be discussed in the cabinet meeting tomorrow, with the hope of resolving the polemics related to the repeal of the emergency ordinances in a harmonious and constitutional manner,” Muhyiddin said in a statement.
The debate could be held during a scheduled parliamentary session in September, he added.
A debate in parliament on revoking the measures, which the government had previously said would not be necessary, could ease some of the pressure on Muhyiddin, who has governed with a razor-thin majority and led an unstable ruling coalition since coming to power in March 2020.
King Al-Sultan Abdullah, who imposed the emergency ordinances on the advice of Muhyiddin, issued a rare rebuke of the move, which he said ran counter to Malaysia’s constitution, last Thursday.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim filed a no-confidence motion against Muhyiddin following the King’s comments and on Monday, opposition lawmakers attempted to march on Malaysia’s parliament building to demand Muhyiddin’s resignation after he deferred a parliamentary sitting over COVID-19 concerns.
Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy in which the much-revered king has a largely ceremonial role, carrying out his duties on advice from the prime minister and cabinet.
Some analysts say the monarch has discretion over whether an emergency should be declared, however.
Consent from the king is also needed to name a prime minister.