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Malaysia’s King tells MPs not to make things worse during pandemic

This article is more than 12 months old

He hopes there will not be another political crisis as country grapples with Covid-19

Malaysia's King has called for national unity and urged Members of Parliament not to create another political crisis, as Parliament sat yesterday for the first time since Mr Muhyiddin Yassin was appointed prime minister, leading an alliance that critics say does not command the support of a majority of the 222 MPs.

"I would like to advise not to drag this country again into another political crisis at a time when the people are facing hardship and an uncertain future as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic," Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Ahmad Shah said in his opening address in Parliament.

"It is also for this reason that my government has decided to set the Parliament sitting for one day with my speech as the only agenda," he added.

Former premier Mahathir Mohamad's request for a motion of no confidence against Mr Muhyiddin has been accepted by the Speaker, but only the King's speech was scheduled for the sitting yesterday, leaving no chance for MPs to discuss the planned confidence vote or the Covid-19 pandemic.

Malaysian health authorities yesterday reported 47 new coronavirus infections, bringing the country's total to 6,941 cases.

The Health Ministry reported no new deaths, keeping total fatalities at 113.

In Indonesia, a flood of criticism of the national government's response to the coronavirus pandemic and the behaviour of many Indonesians has appeared on social media under a hashtag that translates as #IndonesiaWhatever.

The posts followed online comments by a doctor and social media influencer, Dr Tirta Mandira Hudhi, who was outraged by the easing of a flight ban that led to passengers inundating a Jakarta airport late last week and ignoring guidelines on social distancing.

On his Instagram account, the doctor posted a picture of himself in full personal protective equipment, holding a sign with the words "Indonesia? Whatever. Do what you like!" Up until yesterday, the post had drawn more than 400,000 likes and the hashtag #IndonesiaTerserah was among the top trending on Instagram and Twitter.

Indonesia has the highest Covid-19 death toll in East Asia outside China, but was slower than its neighbours to impose restrictions to curb the virus and is already discussing when to relax them.

Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto said there were 496 new infections, taking the total to 18,010. He also announced 43 new Covid-19 related deaths, taking the total to 1,191.

BANGKOK TRAFFIC

In Bangkok, cars, trucks and motorcycles jostled yesterday in a return of the Thai capital's familiar gridlock as commuters headed back to work in the second phase of easing coronavirus restrictions to get the economy back on track.

Thailand reported three new coronavirus infections yesterday, taking its total to 3,031 since January, with 56 deaths.

The Philippines reported seven new deaths and 205 additional infections.

The total of deaths from the outbreak there is now 831, while the number of confirmed cases has risen to 12,718. - REUTERS, THE STRAITS TIMES

WORLD