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Malaysia's King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad publicly reprimanded de-facto Law Minister Takiyuddin over his surprise announcement that the emergency ordinances enacted by the government in the midst of the pandemic have been cancelled on July 21. In a rare instance of a personal intervention in political affairs, the monarch said that he had not yet agreed to revoking the emergency laws and scolded the government for misleading parliament and undermining "the functions and powers of His Majesty as the Head of State."

  • Takiyuddin's announcement that the ordinances had been cancelled came in response to attempts by opposition MPs earlier this week to debate them, as parliament reconvened after a multi-month hiatus. The Law Minister's remarks sparked much confusion, before inspiring accusations from opposition benches that the government is trying to thwart parliamentary scrutiny of Covid-19 policies.
  • The constitutional role of Malaysia's King is limited, with the monarch playing a largely figurhead role. The political turbulence during the outbreak of Covid-19 has seen him raise his political profile by actively mediating between key political actors and publicly holding the government to account. In recent months, the King pressured PM Muhyiddin to reopen parliament, which eventually came to fruition.
  • The King's latest remarks prompted opposition lawmakers to demand PM Muhyiddin's immediate resignation, with opposition leader Anwar noting that he has tabled a motion for a no-confidence vote against the Prime Minister. The choir of those urging Muhyiddin to step down included his predecessor Mahathir, who argued that Muhyiddin could not revoke the ordinances without the consent of lawmakers and bears full responsibility for Takiyuddin's statement.
  • The King's comments aggravated tensions between PM Muhyiddin and his key coalition partner UMNO. Malaysia's largest party recently withdrew support for the PM, but also allowed its MPs to vote according to their conscience, which has allowed Muhyiddin to remain in office, even as his government has relied on a razor-thin majority in parliament.
  • UMNO President Zahid has now instructed party lawmakers to pull support for Muhyiddin, but the PM's fate is not yet sealed as UMNO MPs and cabinet ministers have previously been reluctant to abandon the coalition. Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Sabri, a prominent UMNO member, said that the PM is still backed by majority of lawmakers. An alleged letter by UMNO MPs expressing support for Muhyiddin did the rounds, but its authenticity was questioned.
  • The parliament's sitting has been adjourned until Monday after opposition leader Anwar read out the King's statement, the official reason being that two Covid-19 cases have been found among parliamentary staff this week.