Malaysia: Tension Escalates As Riot Police Faces MPs Marching towards Parliament
By Staff- Agencies
Opposition members of Malaysia’s parliament were met by riot police and threatened with arrest as they tried to march to the parliament building on Monday amid rising political tension over the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parliament began a “special session” last week after a months-long shutdown that was triggered by a declaration of emergency in January because of COVID, with opposition politicians lambasting Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and his cabinet over the continuing rise in cases and deaths despite months of an increasingly strict lockdown.
The session was supposed to continue into Monday but was cancelled after a number of COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Parliament.
Dozens of MPs instead gathered in Merdeka Square in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, including opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and former two-time Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, calling on Muhyuddin to resign. They planned to walk to Parliament two kilometres [1.2 miles] away.
“Thousands have died but he is happy to stay,” Mahathir was quoted as saying by online newspaper Malaysiakini. Anwar said that Muhyiddin had lost his legitimacy.
Muhyiddin has been under intensifying pressure since coming to power in March 2020 after a power grab led to the collapse of the government that was voted into power in a historic May 2018 election. Muhyiddin was appointed prime minister after convincing the king he had the necessary support in Parliament to govern but has faced regular calls to prove his majority.
Anger has grown in recent months as the COVID-19 death toll continued to rise despite a prolonged lockdown that has left many people struggling. The country’s total caseload rose above one million last month and a further 160 deaths were reported on Sunday.