KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (Bloomberg) — Malaysia’s king declared a state of emergency in the Southeast Asian nation, in a move that could allow the embattled government to delay elections as it tackles the worsening coronavirus pandemic.
“His Royal Majesty has given consent for the declaration of emergency to be carried out as a proactive measure to contain the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the palace in a statement on Tuesday.
The move comes amid infighting within Malaysia’s largest ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation, on whether or not to hold a snap election by March. UMNO is expected to make a final decision on the matter during its general assembly on Jan. 31.
Muhyiddin has maintained that an election should only be held after the coronavirus is under control. Signs point to the pandemic worsening: daily infections climbed to a record for two straight days last week, pushing the health system to breaking point.