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Malaysians demand PM Muhyiddin quits

July 31, 2021

Hundreds of youths have demonstrated in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, over Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's handling of the pandemic. Critics also say he is using emergency laws to cling to power.

Youths carrying banners sit on a Kuala Lumpur street
Hundreds of youths site on a street in Kuala Lumpur to demand PM Muhyiddin Yassin's resignationImage: Syaiful Redzuan/AA/picture alliance

Hundreds of Malaysians staged anti-government protests on Saturday in defiance of a ban on public gatherings under coronavirus curbs.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin obtained royal consent to implement a six-month state of emergency, allowing him to suspend parliament and rule by decree earlier this year.

Saturday's demonstration in Kuala Lumpur was the first sizable sign of revolt against thelockdown rules.

Malaysia protesters brandish signs demanding the government steps down
Wearing face masks while holding black flags and placards, the protesters chanted ``Fight! Fight!'' and ``Muhyiddin resign''Image: Fl Wong/dpa/picture alliance

Organizers said 1,000 people took part; police put the number at 400.

The mostly young protesters, wearing masks and socially distanced, were largely dressed in black and brandished anti-government banners.

What did protesters say?

"We fight because while the people are suffering, this government is busy playing politics," Karmun Loh told AFP.

"This government is crippling the economy and also destroying our country's democracy."

A police car in Kuala Lumpur during an anti-government protest.
The police were on standby but the demonstration passed without any major incidents.Image: Syaiful Redzuan/AA/picture alliance

Fellow protester Shaq Koyok said Muhyiddin "is a terrible prime minister" and that he "needs to stop down.

There was a heavy police presence at the scene, but the demonstration passed off peacefully.

What is the political situation in Malaysia?

Muhyiddin took power in March 2020 by forming a coalition with the opposition after the previous government collapsed.

But now the 74-year-old's administration is teetering on the brink after his allies withdrew their support.

Earlier this month, his rivals shouted "treason" in parliament and called on him to resign.

Critics argue Muhyiddin is using the emergency laws, which are set to expire on Sunday, as a way of clinging to power.

Despite the state of emergency, daily infections hit 10,000 for the first time earlier this month and have not dipped below that level ever since.

Total deaths have risen to nearly 9,000, while just 20% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

The nationwide lockdown will remain in place once the state of emergency expires.

jf/mm (AP, AFP)