Malaysia unveiled a new 15 billion ringgit ($3.7 billion) stimulus to bolster consumption, with the economy expected to reel from a second lockdown and an emergency declaration.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin obtained royal assent last week to declare a coronavirus emergency, slammed by critics as a desperate bid to cling to power amid defections in his ruling coalition.
The state of emergency, expected to last until August 1, doesn’t involve any curfew or military intervention but suspends Parliament, halts any elections and gives Muhyiddin’s government absolute power such as introducing new laws.
It came at the same time as millions in Kuala Lumpur and several high-risk states were placed under a two-week lockdown to halt a surge in coronavirus cases.
Muhyiddin on Monday acknowledged concerns over the emergency, but reiterated it was solely aimed at curbing the coronavirus spread.
He said the economic impact from the lockdown will be manageable as more economic activities are allowed to operate this time.
He said the stimulus will provide more funds to battle the pandemic, and support livelihood and businesses.
A businessman has filed a lawsuit to challenge the emergency declaration, while the opposition plans to appeal to the king to rescind his support.
Malaysia has recorded more than 158,000 coronavirus cases, with 601 deaths.