Prime Minister of Malaysia, Muhyiddin Yassin has been facing pressure to resign office after the country’s king criticized his government’s handling of emergency ordinances.
Earlier this week, Muhyiddin’s government nullified all ordinances that had come into effect since a national state of emergency was imposed in January by King Al-Sultan Abdullah on the advice of Muhyiddin, who had said it was needed to curb the spread of COVID-19.
But in a statement on Thursday, the palace said Muhyiddin revoked the ordinances without the king’s consent and thus ran counter to the federal constitution and the principles of law.
But Muhyiddin’s office said his government had acted in accordance with the law and the Malaysian constitution to reverse the ordinances.
This comes following months of criticisms against the emergency move by the government. Critics had claimed that the prime minister was trying to cling to power amid a slim majority.
Muhyiddin has governed with a razor-thin majority and led an unstable ruling coalition since coming to power in March 2020. Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad unexpectedly exited in February 2020 amid infighting in his governing coalition.
Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy in which the king has a largely ceremonial role, carrying out his duties on advice from the prime minister and cabinet.
The UMNO party, the biggest bloc in the ruling alliance, called on Muhyiddin to resign for disobeying the king’s decree to debate the emergency ordinances in parliament and revoking them without his consent.
UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Muhyiddin’s actions were a “clear act of treason towards the King”.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has also said he has filed a motion of no confidence against Muhyiddin, and claimed a majority of lawmakers no longer supported the prime minister.
Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government had the support of 110 of Malaysia’s 222 parliamentarians.