© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim speaks to members of the media in Kuala Lumpur
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said on Thursday that he would present an appeal to the king to end the state of emergency imposed to combat the coronavirus, which he described as a move by the prime minister to hold on to the power. Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah on Tuesday declared a state of national emergency to curb the spread of the virus and suspended parliament, which the opposition said was Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s ploy to maintain control amid fighting by the power. In a letter sent to federal lawmakers seeking their support, Anwar accused Muhyiddin and the government of misleading the king by submitting his proposal for an emergency declaration, as the provisions of existing laws were sufficient to contain the spread. “The prime minister is more focused on efforts to hold onto power,” Anwar said in the letter, which his office shared with the media. The prime minister’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a separate statement, Anwar said he hoped the king would exercise his wisdom to rescind the emergency declaration and request that parliament meet on January 31 to discuss the emergency declaration, the pandemic and the subsequent economic consequences. This was the first time the Southeast Asian nation has been placed under emergency rule in more than 50 years, and only the second time that parliament has been suspended since independence from Great Britain in 1957. The emergency declaration, which could last until Aug. 1, came just a day after Muhyiddin announced a nationwide travel ban and coronavirus lockdowns in the capital and five states. Muhyiddin has faced a very narrow parliamentary majority and infighting in his ruling coalition since he became prime minister in March. Two lawmakers from a coalition partner withdrew their support in recent days, eliminating their majority.