Malaysia’s opposition lawmakers attempted to march on the country’s parliament building on Monday to demand Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s resignation after the premier postponed a parliamentary sitting amid political turmoil.
Muhyiddin cited the discovery of COVID-19 infections as the reason for postponing the final parliamentary session scheduled for Monday, but the opposition characterised it as a politically motivated move to prevent any challenges to his leadership.
On Monday, opposition lawmakers marched towards the parliament building but were met with riot police.
“Muhyiddin as prime minister has fallen today,” opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said in a speech after the lawmakers were turned away.
He said all 107 opposition lawmakers were united in seeking the premier’s resignation for going against the constitution and the king’s decree, and blocking lawmakers from carrying out their duties.
“Only through this way, this prolonged political turmoil can end and focus can be fully given to efforts to solve the health, economic and social crises that the country has been facing since 17 months ago,” former premier Mahathir Mohamad said in a statement.
Malaysia has been in a state of political flux since Mahathir’s unexpected resignation last year that led to Muhyiddin coming to power in March 2020.
Muhyiddin has governed with a razor-thin majority and led an unstable ruling coalition as the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Muhyiddin faced fresh calls to resign last week after Malaysia’s king issued a rare rebuke of the government’s revocation of ordinances – issued under an emergency rule in place since January – without his consent.
The monarch had asked for the revocation of ordinances related to the handling of the pandemic to be debated in parliament, but the government said that was not necessary.
Opposition leader Anwar had filed a no-confidence motion against Muhyiddin following the comments by the king.
With the parliament session cancelled, it was unclear whether the vote or the ordinances would be tabled in parliament.