Malaysia opposition MPs gather at Merdeka Square after being blocked from entering parliament

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Malaysian opposition leaders including Mr Anwar Ibrahim and Dr Mahathir Mohamad gathered at the Merdeka Square on Monday (Aug 2), after they were blocked by the authorities from entering the parliament building.

Monday’s special parliamentary meeting was postponed after the detection of COVID-19 cases in the House of Representatives, but opposition lawmakers insisted on gathering for the session, insisting that they did not agree to the suspension of the proceedings.

“In terms of the numbers of MPs, the Muhyiddin government has fallen, and I have information that, there are other parties that presented lists that requested to exit from Perikatan Nasional.

“Therefore with the 107 (MPs) here, plus them, the government has already fallen,” he claimed.

Dr Mahathir’s Pejuang party said in a statement that the government has violated the principles of parliamentary democracy and made a mockery of the king’s decree. The party called for the prime minister and the Cabinet to “take the honourable route and step down immediately from their posts”.

“The continuing political crisis can only end this way and full attention can be paid to efforts to solve the health, economic and social crisis hitting the country,” according to the statement.

The opposition lawmakers held a banner calling for Mr Muhyiddin and the Cabinet to resign.

They attempted to march from Merdeka Square to the parliament but were reportedly blocked by the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU). The FRU is usually activated to handle riots.

The group later dispersed peacefully. The police have indicated that they will summon the lawmakers for questioning soon.

On Saturday, the secretary of the House of Representatives said the Monday parliamentary meeting would be postponed to a future date due to COVID-19 cases being detected in parliament.

The secretary said the parliament was informed by the prime minister on the postponement, and that it was in line with Standing Order 11(3).

A five-day special parliamentary meeting was earlier organised to allow the government to brief lawmakers about its COVID-19 response and pave the way for an eventual hybrid parliament sitting. The last day of the meeting was scheduled to take place on Monday.

Last week’s parliamentary proceedings were overshadowed by an announcement by de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan that the emergency ordinances introduced during the state of emergency had been revoked on Jul 21.

In a rare reprimand, the palace said that the government had revoked the ordinances without the king’s consent. “His Majesty stressed that the minister’s statement in the parliament on Jul 26 is not accurate and has misled the MPs,” it said.

The Prime Minister’s Office, however, has maintained that its actions were in accordance with Malaysia’s laws and Constitution.

Last Thursday afternoon, the parliament building went into lockdown after it was announced that two COVID-19 cases were detected there. All lawmakers were made to undergo screening while the proceedings were postponed.

The parliament meeting was later adjourned at 5.15pm when the deputy speaker said that two more COVID-19 cases were detected.

Subsequently, health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said 11 COVID-19 cases were detected at the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday, and that four cases were most likely to be the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Over the weekend, hundreds of black-clad Malaysians staged an anti-government protest in defiance of a ban on public gatherings, piling pressure on Mr Muhyiddin to resign.

 

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