Anwar Ibrahim

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Malaysian monarch Sultan Abdullah

Opinion: Malaysia’s king becomes kingmaker

On September 23, 2020, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim unexpectedly announced he had amassed a “strong, formidable and convincing majority” to replace the current prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin. Maneuvering under the cover of the worsening pandemic, the prime minister then attempted to declare emergency rule. However, his request was rejected by the king, whose assent must be sought to implement such measures. The future of Malaysia’s power balance, already fragile after a tumultuous transition earlier this year, will be determined by whether political factions turn to the parliament or the constitutional monarchy as a source of ultimate authority in the Southeast Asian country.

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