Bersih Sarawak views SDMC’s statement on election SOPs with unease

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KUCHING, Nov 30: Bersih Sarawak, through a statement issued today, views with unease the statement made by State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) saying that they are drafting and coming up with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the 12th Sarawak Election.

“Minister of Communications and Multimedia Tan Sri Annuar Musa stated during his visit to Sarawak over the weekend that his ministry will discuss with the State government whether there is a need for candidates to campaign through the official government television and radio channels as was done during the recently concluded Melaka state election.”

They explained that Under Article 113 of the Federal Constitution, the Election Commission (EC) is mandated to conduct elections, which includes the necessary drafting and setting up of SOPs.

Other agencies, be it Federal and State, can and should only be consulted by the EC to come out with suitable and appropriate SOPs to reduce the risks of Covid-19 infection, at the same time to uphold the integrity of the process and make elections as inclusive as possible so that all voters can participate.

“Is the Sarawak government, which is currently the caretaker government, taking over the role of the EC in coming up with these SOPs?

“If so, would it not be a conflict of interest for SDMC and the current caretaker government to have a hand in the drafting of these SOPs when they are also contesting in the same election?

“Will they be able to ensure through these SOPs that the election will be free and fair to all parties, candidates, and voters?”

They also said that now is not the time for EC to delegate its duties and constitutional responsibility to State agencies that lack the expertise and legal standing to conduct elections.

“Such abdication and dereliction of its duty puts the principle of a level-playing field during elections at risk.

“EC should be the primary body that writes the rules of the game, not civil servants of a caretaker government, and certainly not by the state government itself.” — DayakDaily