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Malaysia rulers to meet to consider PM Muhyiddin's emergency proposal

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Malaysia’s rulers are set to meet on Sunday to discuss what sources have said is a proposal by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to impose a state of emergency amid a political crisis.

Muhyiddin on Friday asked the king to impose emergency rule that would include suspending parliament, the sources with direct knowledge of the matter said, a move that opposition leaders have decried as an attempt by the premier to stay in power amid a leadership challenge.

Muhyiddin has been in a precarious position since he took office in March with a two-seat majority. Uncertainties deepened after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said last month that he had the parliamentary majority to form a new government.

The prime minister’s proposal comes as Malaysia faces a resurgence in COVID-19, a pandemic-battered economy and doubts over Muhyiddin’s ability to command a majority in parliament and pass a budget for 2021.

King Al-Sultan Abdullah will meet with other senior royals, called the Council of Rulers, at 0630 GMT at the national palace, according to state news agency Bernama.

The palace on Saturday said the king will consult with other rulers on proposals by Muhyiddin, but did not identify what the proposals were.

The constitution gives the king the right to decide if an emergency should be declared, based on threats to security, economy or public order.

An emergency would give extra powers to the prime minister, who can then introduce rules and approve expenditure without the usual parliamentary process.

Media reports have said Muhyiddin’s emergency proposal seeks to suspend political activities and would not affect other economic activity.

“A state of emergency may provide some form of stability in the short term, especially concerning policy implementation,” Affin Hwang Capital Asset Management said in a research note.

“Though if left unchecked and prolonged, it is harmful to the country’s democratic process and governance,” it said, adding that equity and bond markets could see a knee-jerk self off if an emergency is imposed.

Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi and Liz Lee; Editing by William Mallard

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