KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has filed a lawsuit against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and the federal government, by initiating a judicial review challenging Mr Muhyiddin's advice to the king to suspend paliamentary sittings during the country's state of emergency.
In a statement on Tuesday (Jan 26), Mr Anwar's lawyer Ramkarpal Singh said that the application for leave for judicial review was filed by the Parti Keadilan Rakyat leader at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Monday.
Mr Singh added: "Among reliefs sought in that application is a declaration from court that the Prime Minister's advice to the King to suspend Parliament during the period of the emergency proclaimed recently is against the law and the federal Constitution."
Mr Singh, who is also an opposition lawmaker for the Bukit Gelugor constituency, stressed that what is being challenged is not the emergency declaration, but the decision by the prime minister, through the Cabinet, to advise the king to approve Rule 14 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 that suspends parliament during the emergency period.
"The Prime Minister's advice is said to be in contravention of the law," said Mr Singh.
He added that he hoped the application will be heard at the High Court at an early date.
Malaysia's King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah declared a state of emergency across the country on Jan 12 to curb the spread of COVID-19. The emergency will last until Aug 1 or earlier depending on the state of coronavirus infections.
Mr Muhyiddin later indicated that there will be no parliamentary sitting or election during the duration of the state of national emergency.
This sparked criticism from various politicians both in the government and in the opposition. On Jan 14, Mr Anwar called on Members of Parliament (MPs) to write to the king and plead for the emergency proclamation to be withdrawn and for the parliament to be convened as soon as possible.
The government is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, with all the states except Sarawak placed under Movement Control Order until Feb 4.
As of Monday, Malaysia has reported a total of 186,849 COVID-19 cases, of which 41,076 are currently classified as active or infectious. There have also been 689 fatalities.