'Strong and stable government' needed in COVID-19 fight, says Sarawak coalition in audience with king
KUALA LUMPUR: Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), the ruling coalition in the Borneo state, highlighted the importance of a “strong and stable government” as one of the crucial factors in the fight against COVID-19 in its meeting with the Malaysian king on Monday (Jun 14).
Four top leaders from the coalition were the last group to be granted an audience by King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah in a series of meetings with party chiefs since last Wednesday.
In a statement issued after the audience via video conferencing from Kuching, chiefs of the Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) said they backed Chief Minister Abang Abdul Rahman Zohari Abang Openg’s position as the coalition chairman on three factors for the COVID-19 battle.
“The vaccination programme is to be accelerated and completed by August to achieve herd immunity.
“The presence of a strong and stable government to ensure COVID-19 programme and (economic) implementation are well-grounded,” the statement read.
The third factor is the implementation of a post-COVID-19 economic exit plan, the statement added.
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Mr Abang Abdul Rahman Zohari is the president of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB). The GPS was formed in 2018 after the four parties quit Barisan Nasional following the latter’s defeat in the 14th general election.
While not a member of the Perikatan Nasional coalition, which took over federal administration in a power tussle last year, GPS had said that it supported Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in the interest of political stability.
The Sarawak state election, which was supposed to be held this year, has been postponed as mandated by the state of emergency proclaimed by the king in January.
The palace said King Al-Sultan Abdullah would meet fellow Malay rulers on Wednesday to discuss Malaysia’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 and its implementation during the state of emergency.
In last week’s royal audiences, Leader of the Opposition Anwar Ibrahim pleaded with the king not to extend the state of emergency, which was slated to end on Aug 1.
Calling for the same, United Malays National Organisation president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the party also wanted the parliament to reconvene. Parliament meetings have been suspended since the state of emergency was declared, putting attempts to challenge Mr Muhyiddin’s razor-thin majority on hold.
Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, meanwhile, said he is in favour of setting up a National Operations Council to help solve the health, economic, and social issues currently plaguing the country.
On Monday, Malaysia’s new daily cases dropped below the 5,000-mark for the first time in close to a month. A nationwide lockdown was earlier extended by another two weeks to Jun 28.
Mr Muhyiddin said on Sunday that a national recovery plan in preparation for the country to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic was in the works.