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Malaysia PM says parliament could reconvene by September

FILE - Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin takes part in the online Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' summit in Kuala Lumpur on Nov. 20, 2020. (Reuters)

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Tuesday said parliament could reconvene by September at the earliest, providing the average number of new daily coronavirus infections falls to under 2,000.

Malaysia's parliament has been suspended since January after the king declared a national emergency on Muhyiddin's advice, to deal with coronavirus outbreaks.

The opposition saw that as an attempt by Muhyiddin to shore up his position amid a leadership challenge.

In a televised speech Muhyiddin said he was committed to allow parliament to resume its functions "at the appropriate time."

"I will continue to uphold the principles of parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy," he said.

Malaysia has reported 4,069 coronavirus deaths and nearly 668,000 cases as of Tuesday, the highest number of infections per capita in Southeast Asia.

The number of daily cases has been greater than 2,000 on most days this year.

The government imposed a nationwide lockdown over most of June to address a fresh surge in infections.

Muhyiddin said the government aims to allow all economic sectors to reopen and for Malaysians to enjoy more social activities and domestic tourism by the end of the year, when herd immunity is achieved with 80% of the 32 million population fully vaccinated.

Until then, it will gradually open up the economy and social activities over four phases based on case numbers, status of the healthcare system and vaccination figures, he said.

About 10% of the population have received at least one vaccine shot as of Monday.

The list of economic sectors allowed to reopen will broaden from the second phase onwards, with businesses allowed to deploy up to 80% of their workforce, he said.