Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on politics in Malaysia

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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted and affected the political system of Malaysia, causing suspensions of legislative activities and isolation of multiple politicians due to fears of spreading the virus. The onset of the pandemic coincided with a political crisis in early 2020 which continued into 2021 as the spread of COVID-19 and emergency government measures exacerbated initially unrelated political instability, culminating in the resignation of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and his cabinet in August 2021. Numerous elections have been postponed or suspended, after the 2020 Sabah state election was blamed for a major outbreak in the state that led to the country's third wave. Several politicians have tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021.

General election and government formation

A political crisis in Malaysia coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.[1] The Pakatan Harapan coalition government collapsed, leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and eventual replacement with Muhyiddin Yassin and a new Perikatan Nasional coalition, which maintained a small majority. Prime Minister Muhyiddin blamed the 2020 Sabah state election for a substantial increase in COVID-19 cases across the state and country.[2]

In June 2021, the rulers of Malaysia declared that there is no need to extend a state of emergency after 1 August, and parliament should be reopen as soon as possible.[3] The emergency has led to the suspension of all federal parliament and state assembly sittings and also by-elections, among other things, therefore by-elections will need to be elect after 1 August in Sarawak (assembly), Batu Sapi (federal seat), Gerik (federal seat), Bugaya (Sabah state seat) and Melor (Kelantan state seat).[4]

Restriction announcements

A large outbreak at a Tablighi Jamaat religious event and spread of the virus across the country thought to have been exacerbated by the political instability,[5] which newly appointed Health Minister Adham Baba used to criticize his predecessor Dzulkefly Ahmad, despite the absence of a clear government responsible at the time of the event.[6][7] Shortly after a thin government majority was established, the new government announced the nationwide Movement Control Order (MCO) to curb the spread of the virus.[1]

Amid ongoing political instability, Yang di-Pertuan Agong warned politicians in May 2020 that he "would like to advise against dragging the country once again into a political mess that brings uncertainties" given the ongoing health crisis in the country.[8] In January 2021, a State of Emergency was declared, suspending all elections and parliament, and the government were empowered to pass laws without oversight in response to the pandemic and ongoing political instability.[9] This led to the resignation of MP Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub from the party, resulting in the loss of the government's required majority of at least 111 MPs in the Dewan Rakyat.[10] Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim criticised the declaration, saying this was an effort for the government to maintain power and that 115 other MPs were against it.[11]

Instances of isolation and testing

On 17 March 2020, Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen (Bandar Kuching member of parliament) tested positive for COVID-19 and was quarantined at Sarawak General Hospital. He was suspected of having been infected with the virus after meeting Sarikei MP Wong Ling Biu who was also tested positive for the virus.[12] He was announced to have recovered on 23 March 2020.[13] Another MP which is Chong Chieng Jen (Stampin member of parliament) tested negative.[14]

List of assemblymen who tested positive for COVID-19

Dewan Negara (Senators)

Dewan Negara

State/Appointed Member Party Comfirmed Date
Appointed Ahmad Masrizal Muhammad UMNO 3 October 2020 (2020-10-03)[15]
Idris Ahmad PAS 16 January 2021 (2021-01-16)[16]
Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri IND 5 October 2020 (2020-10-05)[17]

Dewan Rakyat (Members of Parliament)

Dewan Rakyat

State No. Parliament Constituency Member Party Comfirmed Date
 Perlis P001 Padang Besar Zahidi Zainul Abidin UMNO 13 January 2021 (2021-01-13)[18]
 Kelantan P030 Jeli Mustapa Mohamed BERSATU 10 January 2021 (2021-01-10)[19]
P032 Gua Musang Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah UMNO 14 January 2021 (2021-01-14)[20]
 Penang P047 Nibong Tebal Mansor Othman BERSATU 25 July 2021 (2021-07-25)[21]
 Perak P056 Larut Hamzah Zainudin BERSATU 12 January 2021 (2021-01-12)[22]
P061 Padang Rengas Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz UMNO 18 January 2021 (2021-01-18)[23]
P073 Pasir Salak Tajuddin Abdul Rahman UMNO 20 January 2021 (2021-01-20)[24]
P075 Bagan Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi UMNO 25 July 2021 (2021-07-25)[25]
 Pahang P082 Indera Mahkota Saifuddin Abdullah BERSATU 28 April 2021 (2021-04-28)[26]
 Kuala Lumpur P119 Titiwangsa Rina Mohd. Harun BERSATU 11 January 2021 (2021-01-11)[27]
 Johor P156 Kota Tinggi Halimah Mohd. Sadique UMNO 19 January 2021 (2021-01-19)[28]
 Sabah P180 Keningau Jeffrey Gapari Kitingan STAR 4 January 2021 (2021-01-04)[29]
 Sarawak P194 Petra Jaya Fadillah Yusof PBB 11 June 2021 (2021-06-11)[30]
P197 Kota Samarahan Rubiah Wang PBB 4 April 2020 (2020-04-04)[31]
P195 Bandar Kuching Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen DAP 17 March 2020 (2020-03-17)[32]
P208 Sarikei Wong Ling Biu DAP 17 March 2020 (2020-03-17)[33]
P211 Lanang Alice Lau Kiong Yieng DAP 27 May 2021 (2021-05-27)[34]
Total Perlis (1), Kelantan (2), Perak (3), Pahang (1), F.T. Kuala Lumpur (1), Johor (1), Sabah (1), Sarawak (5)

Dewan Undangan Negeri (Malaysian State Assembly Representatives)

State No. Parliamentary
Constituency
No. State Assembly Constituency Member Party
 Perlis P02 Kangar N8 Indera Kayangan Gan Ay Ling PKR
 Kedah P17 Padang Serai N34 Lunas Azman Nasruddin BERSATU
 Kelantan P30 Jeli N37 Air Lanas Mustapa Mohamed BERSATU
P32 Gua Musang N43 Nenggiri Ab. Aziz Yusoff UMNO
N45 Galas Mohd. Syahbuddin Hashim UMNO
 Terengganu P40 Kemaman N30 Kijal Ahmad Said UMNO
 Pahang P81 Jerantut N9 Tahan Mohd Zakhwan Ahmad Badarddin PAS
P89 Bentong N35 Sabai Kamache Doray Rajoo DAP
 Selangor P97 Selayang N14 Rawang Chua Wei Kiat PKR
P105 Petaling Jaya N33 Taman Medan Syamsul Firdaus Mohamed Supri PKR
P106 Damansara N35 Kampung Tunku Lim Yi Wei DAP
P107 Sungai Buloh N39 Kota Damansara Shatiri Mansor PKR
P113 Sepang N55 Dengkil Adhif Syan Abdullah BERSATU
 Negeri Sembilan P132 Port Dickson N33 Sri Tanjong Ravi Munasamy PKR
 Malacca P134 Masjid Tanah N3 Ayer Limau Amiruddin Yusop UMNO
 Johor P142 Labis N5 Tenang Mohd. Solihan Badri BERSATU
P146 Muar N15 Maharani Nor Hayati Bachok AMANAH
P149 Sri Gading N21 Parit Yaani Amunolhuda Hassan AMANAH
P153 Sembrong N30 Paloh Sheikh Umar Bagharib Ali DAP
 Sabah P168 Kota Marudu N07 Tandek Hendrus Anding PBS
P170 Tuaran N12 Sulaman Hajiji Mohd Nor BERSATU
P180 Keningau N39 Tambunan Jeffrey Kitingan STAR
N40 Bingkor Robert Tawik STAR
P188 Lahad Datu N63 Kunak Norazlinah Arif WARISAN
 Sarawak P198 Puncak Borneo N19 Mambong Jerip Susil PBB
Total Perlis (1), Kedah (1), Kelantan (3), Terengganu (1), Pahang (2), Selangor (5), Negeri Sembilan (1), Malacca (1), Johor (4), Sabah (5), Sarawak (1)

See also

References

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