Malaysia Invokes Emergency to Stop By-elections as Covid-19 Cases Surge

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Malaysia’s government on Wednesday declared a state of emergency to stop by-elections in two constituencies scheduled for next month, as the country grapples with a spike in coronavirus cases over the past few months.

The Southeast Asian nation has seen a sharp jump in cases since September, with the total number of infections climbing above 86,000 and with 422 deaths as of Tuesday.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a statement the king had assented to the request to impose an emergency in the Bugaya constituency in Sabah on Borneo, the state that health authorities believe was the epicentre of the country’s third wave of infections, and the Gerik constituency in Perak state.

The government had declared a state of emergency in another constituency in Sabah last month, also to stop a scheduled by-election.

In October, King Al-Sultan Abdullah rejected an attempt by Muhyiddin to impose a nationwide state of emergency in response to rising coronavirus cases, with critics accusing the premier of attempting to block a potential showdown in parliament ahead of a crucial budget vote.

Muhyiddin on Tuesday succeeded in passing his 2021 budget with a two-vote majority in parliament.