Police block Malaysian opposition parties from entering parliament

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Malaysia flag

Malaysian police on Monday blocked around 100 opposition lawmakers from marching to the country’s parliament after they staged a rally in Kuala Lumpur’s main plaza.

The lawmakers were protesting a weekend announcement that Monday’s parliament session had been postponed indefinitely after a reported 11 coronavirus cases in the building last week.

Among the protesting members of parliament was Mahathir Mohamad, the 96-year-old former prime minister who until February 2020 was the world’s oldest head of government.

Syed Saddiq, an opposition lawmaker who was Mahathir’s sports minister, claimed the deferral made no sense as “almost all MPs and officials have received two doses of vaccine.”

Monday’s parliament meeting was to be the last of a session convened at short notice after Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was asked to resign by the biggest party in his coalition.

Muhyiddn has held on, although opposition leaders on Monday demanded he allow a no-confidence vote.

“In terms of the numbers of MPs, the Muhyiddin government has fallen,” opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said, during the rally at Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square).

Police on Sunday questioned leaders of a separate anti-government protest held at the square the day before.

Muhyiddin has faced fierce criticism over the government’s response to the pandemic.

A “total” lockdown, the country’s third, was imposed in May as cases hit around 4,000 a day.

Numbers have quadrupled since then, hitting over 15,700 on Monday, according to the Health Minstry.

The economy has been hard hit, with July industrial output likely the lowest since the first worldwide lockdowns last year, according to IHS Markit’s monthly purchasing managers’ index, a survey of local factories.

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