After the 62nd Merdeka Day festivities in Putrajaya, Malaysia and an honor guard at Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, Malaysia, August 31, 2019, Shah inspects the Queen's King Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa? REUTERS Lim Huey Teng
On Wednesday, the king of Malaysia had started a series of meetings with leaders of political parties amid public discontent over the government's handling of a coronavirus crisis which has forced the nation into a third lockdown.
The administration of the Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin imposed compulsory COVID-19 measures from 1 - 14 on May to prevent an epidemic in death and infections, on top of an ongoing national emergency to curb the spread of disease.
But these have led to public anger over a perceived uneven rollout of vaccinations, haphazard policymaking and slow enforcement of coronavirus curbs that critics say royalty and elites have been allowed to dodge.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who spent an hour with King Al-Sultan Abdullah on Wednesday, said the national emergency has caused more harm than good.
We presented our view that allowing this emergency to continue will lead to losses to the country, Anwar told reporters.
It does not help with the handling of COVID and it effects economy, especially those in the lower levels of society.
On Wednesday the first to meet with the king was Muhyiddin before the weekly cabinet meeting. Other political leaders are expected to present themselves at the palace over the next few days, including ex-Premier Mahathir Mohamad.
In a statement, the National Palace said the king on Wednesday convened a special meeting of the Council of Kings to discuss the effort to overcome the epidemic during the emergency.
King Abdullah heeded Muhyiddin's request in January to declare a national emergency to curb the spread of COVID 19, a move the opposition said was an attempt by the premier to strengthen his position amid a power struggle. With almost 634,000 cases among the 32 million people, Southeast Asia has the highest number of infections per capita in Malaysia.